Electronic sick leave notes: 5 problems on the way to simplifying accountants’ work16 March, 2018
By Natalya Lukyanenko, Internal Auditor of Quality Control and Methodology Department
and Methodology Department
Employees have been entitled since July 01, 2017 to receive sick leave note in electronic form (Article 13(5) Federal Law No. 255-FZ on Compulsory Social Insurance for Temporary Inability to Work and Maternity dated December 29, 2006, Article 59(3.2) Federal Law No. 323-FZ on Fundamental Healthcare Principles in the Russian Federation dated November 21, 2011). This change is intended to minimize the number of errors upon issuance of sick leave notes and upon calculation of benefits. Employers may already now start accepting electronic sick leave notes for payment if they so wish. Despite all that has been said in the media and by experts on this topic, working with electronic sick leave notes is becoming an event in organizations and often causes panic. We have considered below the problems that arise when processing electronic sick leave notes.
1. No step-by-step explanations of how to register on the single portal for state services and open a manager account, etc.
To process electronic sick leave notes, a manager needs to register on the portal for state services as an individual to open an account. In Russia, for example, many representative offices of large foreign companies and Russian companies as well are headed by foreign directors, and they experience many difficulties when they register on the portal because one of the mandatory condition to register is to provide passport details. But the fields for passport details consisting exclusively of numbers are designed for Russian passport holders only. Both numbers and letters are included in the passport details of foreigners. So, when foreign directors enter their passport details in the state services portal, an error message suggesting to contact technical support pops up. But technical support often cannot help, and foreign directors need to visit in person the migration department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia with their passport so that their identity can be checked and entered manually in the database.
To get access to all the functions on the portal, company heads, regardless of their citizenship, must confirm their identity. This may be done through one of the User Service Centers whose addresses are indicated on the state service portal. Another way is to get a confirmation code by postal mail. Encrypted digital signatures or universal electronic cards may also be used if available. Then directors create an organization account through their confirmed account.
The identity confirmation stage also raises many questions because there are many confirmation options, but none is described in detail. What is required to receive a confirmation code by postal mail? Do directors need to visit a User Service Center in person? Who confirms identity through the Pension Fund of Russia, in person with personal pension account number? How about if it is done through Sberbank online or other banks offering services from the state portal. Each organization experiences its own difficulty in registering in practice. The only solution that may be offered is to contact the technical support of the state services portal by telephone to find out how to proceed further.
2. It is necessary to find out whether existing electronic signatures are suitable or whether a new one is required
Questions about electronic signature have been raised. A special electronic signature is required for employers to work in the social insurance integrated information system. Not all employers know that the electronic signature they use to submit reports electronically may also be used to work with this system. To find out whether the available electronic signature is suitable to work with the account of Social Insurance Fund of Russia, it is necessary to contact your telecommunications provider. Electronic signatures may be bought in any certifying center accredited by the Russian Ministry of Communications.
3. An agreement for information exchange is to be entered into every year between the regional division of the Social Insurance Fund of Russia and employers
Not all employers know this rule although this agreement is a mandatory document to process electronic sick leave notes. Otherwise, no information exchange can take place. A sample agreement may be downloaded from the website of any regional division of the Social Insurance Fund of Russia. It should be filled out, signed by the head of the organization and handed over to the fund. The standard form of this agreement specifies that it is concluded for one year. Its text may be amended by mutual agreement of the parties. Such amendments should be made in writing by drafting an additional agreement and are valid from the date of signing.
The agreement may be terminated by either party by serving a written notice to the other party at least three months prior to the proposed date of termination.
As a rule, if the parties have not expressed their intention to terminate the agreement in writing 30 calendar days before expiration of the agreement, the agreement will be deemed renewed for another year.
4. Employees must sign a consent for issuance of electronic sick leave and register on the state services portal
Both employers and employees are involved in the process of transition to electronic sick leave notes. If employees want to receive electronic sick leave notes, they must give their consent in writing for issuance of electronic sick leave notes. A standard consent form is posted on the website of the Social Insurance Fund of Russia for issuance of electronic sick leave notes and processing of personal data. This consent form is filled out upon the very first doctor visit. When employees express their wish to receive an electronic sick leave note, they are asked to fill out this standard consent form. Another mandatory condition to receive electronic sick leave notes is to register as an insured person on the state services portal. If employees are not registered on the website, the system will not allow the issuance of electronic sick leave notes.
5. Medical organizations issuing sick leave notes must also register in the information exchange system, and doctors must have an electronic signature
Electronic sick leave notes are signed using encrypted digital signatures of medical workers and of medical organizations. If a doctor has no electronic signature, then the employees visiting this doctor will not be able to get electronic sick leave notes.
I recommend employers who actively use electronic documents to inform their employees of the possibility of getting electronic sick leave notes because doctors tend not to offer this option as many polyclinics do not welcome this new practice (it is easier for employees of retirement age, who do not use technology very well, to issue a sick leave note on paper). For this reason, it is possible to prepare, for example, a checklist of the rules for provision electronic sick leave notes.
The Social Insurance Fund of Russia should soon approve with the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Communications the rules on information exchange (Item 22 Rules approved by Russian Government Decree No. 1567 dated December 16, 2017) which will determine the requirements for user connection to the social insurance integrated information system and the state services portal.
Despite all these and other problems, the transition to electronic sick leave notes presents undeniable advantages for both employers and employees. For example, the system of electronic sick leave notes allows employees and employers to receive information on sick leave notes issued in personal accounts on the website of the Social Insurance Fund of Russia access to which is provided when a login and password to the state services portal is available.