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Finland sees big drop in sick leave after nationwide remote working recommendation

Workers in Finland are less sick than before the coronavirus pandemic.

Nainen tekee töitä myöhään illalla kotonaan Helsingissä 22. toukokuuta 2020.
Remote working has increased in Finland during the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Sick leave has reduced dramatically in Finland after the government recommended people work from home when they can, according to an evaluation by the Finance Ministry and the Ministry for Health and Social Affairs.

The report suggests that sick leave dropped 30 percent overall.

The drop looks to be even bigger 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 use of healthcare services has increased, although that is not the result of remote working itself," the report states.

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

Among government employees remote working is running at some 70 percent, with the figure among the workforce overall at 59 percent.

The state has also saved money on travel during the pandemic, with government procurement arm Hansel putting the figure at around 100 million euros in savings for the taxpayer.

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

Workplaces where it's not possible to switch to remote working have had to spend more money on protective measures for employees in close contact with each other and the public, however.

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