The electronic sick leave notice (eAU)

The electronic sick leave notice (eAU) has several benefits for health insurance holders: it is digitally transmitted to the statutory health insurance provider and employer. Periods of sickness can therefore be documented quickly and without transmission errors.

At a glance

  • Doctors transmit the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) to health insurance providers in digital format.
  • Insured parties still have to immediately inform their employer that they have received a sick leave notice.
  • Employers can then access the sick leave notices electronically from the health insurance providers.
  • The eAU enables reliable, seamless documentation of the sick periods at the health insurance providers, which is important for the payment of sick pay, for example.

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

A laptop, tablet and stethoscope on a glass table. Someone is typing on the laptop keyboard.

What is the electronic sick leave notice (eAU)?

Anyone who is ill and unable to work needs a medical certificate of incapacity for work (AU) in order to receive further salary payments or sickness benefit. This proves to the health insurance provider and employer that they are unable to work. An AU can also be issued if there is a risk that continuing to work will cause a condition to deteriorate to a point that causes an incapacity for work.

In the past, patients had to send the certificate of incapacity for work – also known as a sick note or simply the “yellow note” – to their statutory health insurance provider and employer themselves.

In most cases, this has no longer been necessary since early 2023 as the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) is transmitted digitally via the telematics infrastructure, the secure network for exchanging medical data.

Insured persons do not have to send the electronic sick leave notice to the health insurance provider or their employer themselves.

How do health insurance providers receive the eAU?

If a doctor determines that a patient is unable to work, the practice sends the eAU to the patient’s statutory health insurance provider electronically.

The following data is transmitted:

  • name of the insured person
  • start and end of the incapacity to work
  • date on which the incapacity to work was determined by the doctor
  • whether it is an initial or follow-on notification
  • whether there is any evidence that an (occupational) accident or occupational disease caused the incapacity to work
  • diagnosis

Insured persons receive proof of their incapacity to work in paper format for their own records.

How do employees receive the eAU?

Since the start of 2023, health insurance providers have made the information reported by doctors available to employers for access via a secure and encrypted data connection. No information is provided about the diagnosis.

Employers must only access the data from the eAU from the health insurance provider if they are entitled to do so. This is the case if:

  • an employment contract existed during the period in question
  • the employee has already informed the employer about the incapacity to work and its expected duration.

Important: Even though employees no longer have to present a sick notice, they must still immediately inform their employer if they have been put on sick leave. In other words, there is no longer a duty to provide a sick notice but there is still a duty to report it.

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 eAU is sent to health insurance providers and employers quickly and securely.
  • Insurance holders no longer need to transmit the sick leave notice themselves. They solely have to inform their employer about their incapacity for work.
  • The eAU reduces costs compared to using postal mail.
  • Employers can access eAUs as soon as they are issued, enabling them to take account of sick leave in their work planning without delay.
  • 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.

When is there no eAU?

Digital certification is not currently possible in the case of:

  • child sickness (child sickness benefit)
  • private insurance holders and private medical practices
  • sick leave notices from outside Germany
  • employment bans
  • rehabilitation and reintegration into working life
  • “minijobs” (marginal employment) in private households

In these cases, employees receive multiple copies – one each for their health insurance provider, employer and themselves.

In the event of technical problems, the eAU can be substituted for a hard copy version.

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