Finland sees sharp drop in sick leave after national recommendation for remote work

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Remote working has increased in Finland during the coronavirus pandemic.

Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Sick leave has fallen dramatically in Finland after the government recommended people work from home when possible, according to an assessment by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

The report suggests that sick leave has fallen by 30% overall.

The decline appears to be even greater in the public sector. Among civil servants and government employees, the drop was 50 percent.

This decrease in absenteeism has positive economic impacts, according to the report.

“On the other hand, coronavirus testing and the use of health services have increased, although this is not the result of remote working itself,” the report says.

Finland recommended remote working when possible in March, and this month extended that recommendation until at least the end of the year.

Among government employees, remote work is around 70 percent, with the figure among the overall workforce at 59 percent.

The state also saved money on travel during the pandemic, with government procurement division Hansel estimating around € 100 million in savings for the taxpayer.

On an individual level, the difference is small, but in large organizations the savings add up due to canceled conference trips, although this has had a negative economic impact on the businesses that host and service such events.

However, workplaces where it is not possible to switch to remote work have had to spend more money on protective measures for employees in close contact with each other and with the public.