Finally: The Knesset is considering formulating a decision to approve an illness – without the need for a doctor's signature

Significant progress on the road to sickness certificates without the need for a doctor's signature: This morning (Tuesday), the Labor and Welfare Committee discussed the regulations of the Ministry of Labor concerning the issuance of digital sickness certificates to employees without a visit to a doctor.

The health system is far from perfect, but other countries have something to learn from us

According to the regulations, the option that exists in the procedures today, for issuing digital certificates of up to four days of illness by a doctor, will be anchored. In addition, it was determined that an employee will also be allowed to present a short illness certificate from the health insurance fund, even if not signed by a doctor, for up to four days, provided that it includes seven consecutive days. It will be possible to receive this up to four times a year, and up to ten days a year only.

ועדת הכנסת. בדרך לפטור מאישור מחלה (צילום: דני שם טוב, דוברות הכנסת)
The Knesset Committee. On the way to being exempted from an illness certificate (Photo: Dani Shem Tov, Knesset Spokesperson)

Lilach Naftali from the Ministry of Labor explained: "The amendment is promoted as a follow-up to a government decision from 2023, which is about easing the burden on the health system, and it proposes to add another type of illness certificates in a shortened route that are not subject to a meeting or a conversation with a doctor."

"The possibility will be limited, where the starting point is that when a person is sick for more than 4 days, he needs to see a doctor," she explained, and later on in the discussion it was clarified by the representative of the Ministry of Health that the definition of "visit" also includes a phone call or a video call with a doctor.

Despite the innovative news, the representatives of the employers present at the hearing opposed the regulations. According to attorney Michal Waxman Hili, the representative of the manufacturers' association, explained that a change was proposed on their behalf: "Many employers are complaining about more and more sickness certificates being given to them. We approached the government ministries and the health insurance funds, explained the problem and also offered a solution that was recently rejected – and that is to allow a procedure for controlling sickness certificates."

She explained that in their opinion the phenomenon happens, among other things, because of the competition between the health funds: "An employee who receives a sick certificate is a satisfied client. The regulations do not correspond at all to the difficulty and even increase it. They add an official at the health funds who will also issue sick certificates."

She went on to describe phenomena of the abuse of sick days, such as employees who are invited to a hearing before dismissal and present sick days so that they cannot be fired until they have fully utilized their accrued quota – which is sometimes 90 days, as well as employees who regularly present sick days on holidays and more .

Attorney Sigal Sudai from the Chamber of Commerce added: "Employers currently have no option to review or appeal sick days, they are obligated by regulations to pay the employee and are not allowed to fire them."

The chairman of the committee MK Israel Eichler tried to reach a compromise: "We maintain the doctor's right to professional judgment and no one will dispute that, as well as the employee's right to rest days as needed. However, you now want to create a mechanism that is not a doctor , but a bot or an official who will issue permits, so there may be a reason to give the employer the right to complain or challenge the mechanism, in order to prevent fraud and deter people from cheating."

However, Prof. Amnon Lahad , representative of Klalit Health Services and chairman of the National Council for Community Health, said that the complaints are not related to the proposed change: "We estimate that there is currently a waste of about 100 doctor positions and more on sickness certificates without any medical value. The employers At the moment, the technical change is being used to demand things that need to be discussed, but it is not related to this change. Even today, employees can very easily receive a short sick certificate using the application, only that it will take up a doctor's time."

Therefore, in order to settle the dispute, it was proposed, among other things, to oblige any employee who requests a short sick leave without a doctor's signature to sign an affidavit stating that the circumstances of the request are correct, with the aim of discouraging employees from issuing permits without a genuine medical reason. The idea was accepted by the parties, but a dispute arose as to whether the statement should be signed before the health fund or before the employer. After it was suggested that the statement be signed during the digital approval request, Attorney Renana Miskin, representative of the Ministry of Health, said: "The statement is on the level between the employee and the employer and it is not relevant to these regulations. The doctor is not the employer's babysitter and is not meant to test the employee's credibility in front of him."

At the conclusion of the discussion, the chairman of the committee, MK Eichler, ordered the parties to examine the proposals that came up in the discussion. "Our goal is to protect and relieve the workers as well as the doctors from unnecessary bureaucracy, and on the other hand not to create a loophole that will create problems in the labor market. We will continue to discuss the regulations and formulate a wording that will provide an answer to all parties," he said, and the discussion is expected to convene again.


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