Beginning 1 January 2019, a new law increases the long-term disability payment period from 52 weeks to 78 weeks over a two-year period. The employer is responsible for paying the employee through the end of the month in which the 77th day of leave falls within an 18-month reference period (previously, the reference period was 12 months). The employer is reimbursed at 80 percent of the employee’s covered earnings by the Employers’ Mutual Insurance Fund via social security. The legislation also reduces the average employer contribution rate to the Employers’ Mutual Insurance Fund in 2019 from 1.95 percent to 1.85 percent of covered earnings.

The law further establishes a new progressive return-to-work program allowing the employee to incrementally return to work with the approval of the attending physician, the employer and the National Health Fund (CNS) if the parties determine that a gradual return to work will improve the employee’s state of health. Unlike the current therapeutic half-time work program, the progressive return to work program would allow the employee to maintain full health benefits.