The electronic sick leave notice (eAU)

Digitization in healthcare helps simplify previously paper-based procedures such as the sick leave notice and make them more secure. The major advantage of the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) for the insured person is that it is automatically sent to the employer and health insurance provider.

At a glance

  • The electronic sick leave notice (eAU) can be used by doctors as of January 1, 2021.
  • A transition period is in place until October 2021 to allow for medical practices and health insurance providers to switch to the new electronic transfer system.
  • As of 2022, the eAU removes the burden on the insured person requiring them to send the sick note to the health insurance provider and employer.
  • The eAU lowers costs on the doctor’s side (no more paper printout) and the patient's side (no more sending notes by postal service).
  • Furthermore, the eAU provides health insurance providers with reliable and complete documentation on an insured person’s sick leave.

Note: The information in this article cannot and should not replace a medical consultation and must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.

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What is the electronic sick leave notice (eAU)?

A sick leave notice is issued by a doctor or dentist if a patient's illness prevents them from performing their job to its full capacity. Previously, the patient had to send the sick leave notice themselves, for example, to he health insurance provider and employer, typically by postal mail.

Now it is possible to send this type of personal data much faster to its destination via a secure, digital network used to exchange medical data (telematics infrastructure). This network connects doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, and health insurance providers electronically so that patient data can be exchanged.

One goal of the telematics infrastructure is to digitize paper-based processes, thus simplifying them. The electronic sick leave notice (eAU) is a good example of this.

eAU: introduction in two stages

The yellow sick leave notice in its original form consists of four parts: one copy of the notice each for the doctor, the patient, the health insurance provider, and the employer. The electronic sick leave notice (eAU) will be implemented in two stages with regard to these four target groups.

The first stage is the electronic transfer of the eAU from the issuing medical practice to the patient’s health insurance provider. This means a paper-based certificate for the health insurance provider is not needed. The printed copies for the insured person and their employer will remain in effect however – until July 2022. This means that the insured must still send a paper copy to the employer until this point in time.

The second stage in implementing the eAU begins in 2022 and involves the electronic transfer of the sick leave notice to the employer. The patient will no longer be responsible for this step, but rather the health insurance provider. The health insurance provider sends the employer the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) in digital form.

In summary: beginning in October 2021 (after the transition period through September 2020), doctors will transfer the sick leave notice only in digital form to health insurance providers. Health insurance providers will electronically report incapacity for work to employers starting in 2022. Until then, patients must continue to send the paper version of their sick leave notice to their employer by postal mail.

Advantages of the eAU

This transition to the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) offers advantages to all involved parties – patients, doctors, health insurance providers, and employers.

  • The sick leave notice will be sent more securely and faster to the employer and health insurance provider.
  • It will no longer be necessary for insured persons to send their sick leave notice to their health insurance provider or employer themselves.
  • The employer receives the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) as soon as it is issued and can more quickly consider the sick leave in their work planning.
  • The eAU reduces costs otherwise spent on sending certificates by postal mail.
  • The eAU provides health insurance providers with complete documentation on an insured person’s sick leave. This means that sick pay can be paid out correctly and on time.
  • And last but not least, the eAU is good for the environment, saving several millions of sheets of paper each year. 

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