New legislation on occupational accidents and diseases

The Act on occupational accidents and occupational diseases (459/2015) came into force on 1 January 2016. By combining the earlier three Acts on occupational accidents and diseases into one, the law surrounding this area has been clarified and more detail has been provided. The basic structure of the system, however, remains unchanged.

The Act applies to occupational accidents and diseases that occur on or after the 1 January 2016. The earlier acts still apply to occupational accidents and diseases that occurred before 1 January 2016. The changes introduced by the Act are as follows:

The scope of application: The scope of application has been defined more precisely and it is more aligned with employment pension legislation. The Act only applies to work which is car-ried out with an intention to make profit. In addition, family members living in the same household with the employer are included in the insurance if they work in an employment re-lationship. The old independent definition of employment relationship has been abolished and employment relationship is now defined in accordance with the Employment Contracts Act (55/2001).

New definitions and principles: New developments in the Act are the definition of accident and the requirement of a medical causal link between an injury or disease and the factor that generated it. The main principle in the Act is that occupational accidents must occur in the work place and whilst carrying out workplace activities. Other circumstances whereby acci-dents are regarded as occupational accidents are also defined. These changes reduce the compensation for accidents that occur outside the workplace.

Calculating salary levels: A new way to calculate salary levels reduces the need to estimate salaries. Typically, salaries are calculated based on the employee’s income over the last three years. Further, the minimum level of compensation for loss of earnings is raised by ten per cent. Otherwise the levels and types of compensation have not been changed significantly.

Shorter processing times: Employers must notify the insurance company of the occupation-al accident or suspected occupational disease within 10 days of receiving information on the incident. Insurance companies must handle the matter within 30 days of receiving all the rele-vant documents, as opposed to the previous three month timeframe.

Obligation to insure: Pursuant to the Act, the employer is required to insure employees with statutory accident insurance if the employees are paid more than 1200 euros per calendar year in total.

Tighter supervision of insurance coverage: The Workers’ Compensation Center, estab-lished by the Act, supervises the insurance duty. The Workers’ Compensation Center may mandatorily insure employees if the employer, even after an order to insure, does not act. The Workers’ Compensation Center also maintains a register of employers who have necessi-tated obligatory insurance for their employees. The State Treasury may also impose a sanc-tion fee on an employer who has failed to insure. Further, the insurance companies have an obligation to monitor that the insurant fulfills its obligations. Finally, as a part of the reform, accident insurance fraud was added as a new offence to the Criminal Code.