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

  • Doctors have been able to use the electronic sick leave notice (eAU) since October 1, 2021.
  • They send the sick leave notice to the health insurance provider in digital format.
  • From the start of 2023, employers will be able to access sick leave notices electronically from 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)?

A sick leave notice is issued by a doctor if a patient’s illness prevents them from performing their job. Previously, the patient had to independently send the sick leave notice to the health insurance provider and employer, typically by postal mail.

This type of personal data can be sent to its destination more easily 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 they can exchange patient data.

One goal of the telematics infrastructure is to digitize and simplify paper-based processes. The electronic sick leave notice (eAU) is an example of this.

eAU: implementation in two stages

The yellow hard copy, usually simply called a sick note, 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 groups.

Stage 1: notification of the health insurance provider

The first stage is the electronic transfer of the eAU from the issuing medical practice to the patient’s health insurance provider.

This notification includes the following information:

  • the 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
  • the diagnosis

Doctors now only transmit the sick leave notice to health insurance providers in digital format. As such, the paper certificate for the health insurance providers has no longer been used since January 2022.

Insured persons no longer have to send the electronic sick leave notice to the health insurance provider or their employer themselves.

Stage 2: notification of the employer

Printed copies for employers will continue to be used until the start of 2023. This means that insured persons must still send a paper copy to their employer until this point in time.

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

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

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.
  • It will no longer be necessary for insured persons to send their sick leave notice to their health insurance provider or employer themselves.
  • 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.

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