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Certificate of incapacity for work: What to look out for

If an employee gets sick, he needs one Certificate of disability. He receives proof of his inability to work from the doctor. However, there are a few things to consider, for example the time within which you have to provide this evidence. Here, the requirements differ individually depending on the employer - if you do not adhere to them out of ignorance, you risk dismissal in the worst case if the regulations are not complied with. A look at the employment contract is therefore of great importance. Here you can find out what further consequences are possible and what you should know about the certificate of incapacity for work ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is a certificate of incapacity for work?

Those who are sick should stay at home and recover for good reason. The required work performance cannot be provided and at infectious diseases like a cold or flu, there is a risk of infecting other colleagues.

But as an employee, you cannot simply determine yourself that you are too sick to work, you need one medical certificate. The so-called certificate of incapacity for work (AU), often also called the “yellow certificate”, certificate or simply sick leave, will be issued by your family doctor, specialist or dentist.

The certificate of incapacity for work serves your boss and employer as proof that you are really ill and that a doctor has certified that you will not be able to go to work for the duration of the AU. This proof is important so that your employer will continue to pay you.

A certificate of incapacity for work can be issued ...

  • as initial certificate: You developed the disease for the first time in the last six months.
  • as a follow-up certificate: Your illness continues beyond the originally stated period.

Certificate of incapacity for work will soon be history

With the law to reduce bureaucracy, the federal government has passed a regulation that also affects the certificate of incapacity for work: From January 1, 2021, the yellow note, previously an A6 appendix on a four-page document be abolished.

So far, you have been given three of the four pages (the fourth remains with the doctor):

  • Copy for submission to the Health insurance
  • Copy for submission to employer
  • Copy for Insured

The top copy is for the health insurance company; In addition to the probable duration of the illness, it contains the diagnosis. Do you want to know, what this code means, enter it on the website of your health insurance company. Here you can find diagnostic information from Techniker Krankenkasse, for example.

The middle note bears the note “Copy to be presented to the employer”. This certificate can be obtained from your employer or, in the case of unemployment, from the employment agency. On this copy is no diagnosis noted.

It is planned that in the future the attending physician will notify the health insurance company that an insured person is unable to work. This then becomes the employer digitally inform about the incapacity for work of one of his employees. For employees, this means less expenditure of time and money, as postage and travel are eliminated.

Until the digital implementation - details are still unclear - the certificate of incapacity for work described in the article remains valid.

Checklist: The most important steps for the certificate of incapacity for work

Do you get sick, cannot go to work and need a certificate of incapacity for work? The following steps show what you have to think about now:

  • Call in sick immediately

    If you realize in the morning that you are sick and unable to work, you should let your boss know immediately. A quick phone call is all it takes, but you can also call in sick by e-mail. As far as you can estimate, you should already state an approximate duration of the incapacity for work. This makes planning easier for your team.

  • Go to the doctor for the AU

    You will then need a doctor's certificate of incapacity for work. You can find out exactly when you need this in the FAQ below. Call or drop by your family doctor for an exam and the doctor to confirm that you cannot work.

  • Send the AU to your employer

    You will receive a certificate of incapacity for work directly from the doctor. You forward this to your employer. In principle, the AU should arrive at the company too early rather than too late, so don't wait too long.

  • Submit the AU to the health insurance company

    In addition, do not forget to submit the further details of the certificate of incapacity to work to the health insurance company. This should also be done as soon as possible.

What happens next depends on the illness and the duration of the certificate of incapacity for work. First of all, of course, you will take care of your recovery for the duration of the AU. If you are still not healthy, go to the doctor again to get a follow-up medical report. Make the second appointment with the doctor early so that the certificates of incapacity for work can be issued without gaps overflow into each other.

For example, if you were originally on sick leave until October 6th, you will need a follow-up certificate that will report you unable to work again from October 7th.

On the other hand, feel yourself again fit and able to work, the certificate of incapacity for work expires and you go back to work as usual the next day.

We also have our checklist for you again as a PDF for free download provided. If you do not know exactly what to think about in the event of illness, you have the most important things at a glance.

FAQ: Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the AU

If an employee falls ill, he still has to think about a few important points when it comes to the certificate of incapacity for work. The individual situation is often decisive: When do I get sick? Which regulations have been agreed with the employer?

In our little FAQ we have them most common questions on the subject of a certificate of incapacity for work summarized and answered for you:

When is a certificate of incapacity for work necessary?

The Remuneration Continued Payment Act regulates in Section 5 (1) that sick employees must immediately notify the employer of their incapacity for work. In the case of illnesses that last longer than three days, the certificate of incapacity for work must be issued the next day at the latest be transmitted.


They work Monday through Friday. On Wednesday morning you wake up feeling very sick. Still before starting work call your employer and call in sick.

Should you longer than three days If you are unable to work due to illness, your certificate of incapacity for work must be submitted by Monday at the latest, as this is the working day following the three days of illness. For example, if you were to be ill on a Tuesday, you would have to have a medical certificate with your employer by Friday of the same week.

This is the basic legal requirement. Depending on the employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, an employer can urge its employees to give him from day one the illness to submit a certificate of incapacity for work.

The same applies to the employment agency in the event of unemployment; depending on the specifications of the clerk, a Sick notification from the first day are required.

What happens if I forget the certificate of incapacity for work?

The timely notification of illness and prompt submission of the certificate of incapacity for work to the employer should be taken seriously. On the one hand, it is a question of fairness, as your employer may have to organize replacements for you or redistribute tasks.

If you do not comply with the legal requirements, your boss has the right to do so Withhold money for the time. A reminder or, in the worst case, termination is also possible if the latter asked you to submit the certificate and this has still not happened.

Remember to submit the issue to the health insurance company in good time. Usually there is a period of one week, but the same applies here: Better earlier than later. This is particularly important for sick pay if you are absent from work for more than six weeks.

Do I need an AU while on vacation?

It goes really stupid for an employee when he falls ill while on vacation. Legislators understand that there is no recreational value once you have to recover. Therefore, sick days according to § 9 Federal Holiday Act (BUrlG)not counted towards the annual leave.

In this case too, so that your employer can take this into account, you must have your Notify the boss immediately. Go to the doctor quickly and send the certificate of incapacity to work immediately, just as you would if you were not on vacation.

If you are abroad, you have to go anyway already on the first day Report your illness to sick leave and inform the boss about the probable duration. You are obliged to do this in accordance with Section 5 (2) of the Continuing Payment Act (EFZG).

You must also leave your address and telephone number where you can be reached at the holiday destination. Do not go to the doctor on the first day of your illness, but only get a certificate of incapacity for work on the fourth day, you go three full vacation days lost.

Remember that you cannot simply take the missed vacation days to relax at the end of the vacation: that would come Self-leave the same and would be a reason for termination.

Read more about what you can and should do if you get sick while on vacation here:

Can a certificate of incapacity for work be issued retrospectively?

The certificate of incapacity for work should be available by the fourth day at the latest. But what do you do when you feel so badly dizzy? hardly get uplet alone leave the house? Many employees therefore ask themselves: Can a certificate of incapacity for work be issued retrospectively?

In order to prevent abuse, doctors are generally only allowed to issue a certificate of incapacity for work after the so-called inspection of the patient, in other words: your state of health must be checked personally by the doctor have been. Since this is not the case with backdating for the time in question, things initially look bad with a certificate of incapacity for work.

The health insurance companies in Germany have laid down corresponding regulations for doctors in the guidelines on incapacity for work (PDF). In § 5 paragraph 3, however, there is an exception in the case of conscientious examination of up to three days possible.

However, this retroactive AU is only under difficult conditions and you bear the risk if your doctor refuses to give you sick leave retrospectively. He can do that if you look absolutely healthy to him and he cannot plausibly track whether you have actually been unable to work in the past few days.

In this case, as with any other certificate of incapacity for work, you as an employee must submit a copy to the health insurance company within seven days submit.

What do I have to inform the boss about?

You call the boss to call in sick and let them know that you have been to the doctor and submit a certificate of incapacity for work. With this the most important information is transmitted, but you also have to tell the company why exactly you fail and what illness incapacitates you?

Basically, first of all No, You are not required to state the exact reason for your illness-related absence. It can be different if you suffer from a highly contagious disease. Here the boss must be able to warn other colleagues.

Whether or not you will inform your boss anyway, though no duty is up to you in the end. In most cases, if you're in bed with the flu, for example, it doesn't matter. However, if you decide against it, it is none of your superiors' business.

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