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Old 14.03.2020, 18:06
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sign-off from work when being abroad?

Hello, I've been searching through this forum on many occasions, always getting a good pointers about the matter of interest. However now I can't find the answer. The forum search doesn't work well, I cannot scroll through the results

I am insured with Assura, GP model, though I've never designated any GP as I didn't go to the doctor yet (in 3 years).

I'm abroad now. In case of any health problem, not only coronavirus, how could I get a work sign-off certificate? Can a local doctor issue one for me which I would forward to my employer or do I have to take something from a local doctor and forward it first to some Swiss doctor?
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Old 14.03.2020, 18:15
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Hello, I've been searching through this forum on many occasions, always getting a good pointers about the matter of interest. However now I can't find the answer. The forum search doesn't work well, I cannot scroll through the results

I am insured with Assura, GP model, though I've never designated any GP as I didn't go to the doctor yet (in 3 years).

I'm abroad now. In case of any health problem, not only coronavirus, how could I get a work sign-off certificate? Can a local doctor issue one for me which I would forward to my employer or do I have to take something from a local doctor and forward it first to some Swiss doctor?
A certificate from a doctor abroad is valid, but if your employer has doubts/suspicion of abuse he can ask the company's doctor to examine you.
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Old 14.03.2020, 18:17
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

You really have to contact Assura - and check with them. This even more so if you do not have a dossier with a local GP.

Last edited by Odile; 14.03.2020 at 18:44.
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Old 14.03.2020, 18:51
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

There are two parts to this:
  • How to get medical treatment while you are outside of Switzerland, and who pays for it.
  • How to report to your employer.

For the first: your regular Swiss general insurance covers the costs of sensible treatment in case of illness or accident while abroad. It does not cover the costs if one deliberately left Switzerland to travel to another country with the purpose of having medical procedures done there.
  • If it is small matter, such as generally ill, then you find your own doctor abroad, see the doctor, get treatment, get a doctor's certificate, get a full bill, pay the doctor yourself, get a proper receipt, and when you get back to Switzerland submit those to your medical insurance for reimbursement.
  • If it is likely to be a large matter, needing lots of expensive tests and treatments, then call the 24-hour number on your medical insurance card, tell them the symptoms, decide with them what to do and check with them that they will cover the costs. This is essential if you are likely to be admitted to hospital as you will need to get pre-approval, in writing, from your insurance company (other than, of course, in a life-and-death situation which makes it impossible to follow those procedures).

For the second: Once you have a found a doctor where you are, outside of Switzerland, inform your employer that you are abroad, and have a doctor's appointment, and will let them know about whether or not you will be written off sick and whether are too ill to travel. Once you have a certificate, mail it to your employer, but keep the original to give to them upon your return, as they might require that.

In general, a doctor's certificate need specify only "illness" or "accident" and until which date your are unfit to work. When abroad, however, it is recommended that you ask the doctor to specify, in addition, if you are unfit to travel and until when. After all, you might be ill, but still be able to return home and rest at home.

EDIT: Odile is right! I just re-read your post and see that you have a GP model. Sorry, I had overlooked this. In that case, definitely either contact your medical insurance before you see a doctor. Or else risk covering the bills abroad, yourself.
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Old 14.03.2020, 18:52
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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You really have to contact Assura - and check with them. This even more so if you do not have a dossier with a local GP.

What does a doctor's note have to do with Assura?
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Old 14.03.2020, 18:54
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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What does a doctor's note have to do with Assura?
I think the edited version of my post, just above yours, answered this.
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Old 14.03.2020, 19:02
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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There are two parts to this:
  • How to get medical treatment while you are outside of Switzerland, and who pays for it.
  • How to report to your employer.

For the first: your regular Swiss general insurance covers the costs of sensible treatment in case of illness or accident while abroad. It does not cover the costs if one deliberately left Switzerland to travel to another country with the purpose of having medical procedures done there.
  • If it is small matter, such as generally ill, then you find your own doctor abroad, see the doctor, get treatment, get a doctor's certificate, get a full bill, pay the doctor yourself, get a proper receipt, and when you get back to Switzerland submit those to your medical insurance for reimbursement.
  • If it is likely to be a large matter, needing lots of expensive tests and treatments, then call the 24-hour number on your medical insurance card, tell them the symptoms, decide with them what to do and check with them that they will cover the costs. This is essential if you are likely to be admitted to hospital as you will need to get pre-approval, in writing, from your insurance company (other than, of course, in a life-and-death situation which makes it impossible to follow those procedures).

For the second: Once you have a found a doctor where you are, outside of Switzerland, inform your employer that you are abroad, and have a doctor's appointment, and will let them know about whether or not you will be written off sick and whether are too ill to travel. Once you have a certificate, mail it to your employer, but keep the original to give to them upon your return, as they might require that.

In general, a doctor's certificate need specify only "illness" or "accident" and until which date your are unfit to work. When abroad, however, it is recommended that you ask the doctor to specify, in addition, if you are unfit to travel and until when. After all, you might be ill, but still be able to return home and rest at home.

EDIT: Odile is right! I just re-read your post and see that you have a GP model. Sorry, I had overlooked this. In that case, definitely either contact your medical insurance before you see a doctor. Or else risk covering the bills abroad, yourself.
It has nothing to do with the insurance model. All emergencies abroad are covered by basic health insurance. Even Assura's GP model. You will have to pay up front (u already do that with Assura GP model anyway) and they are going to ask you to formally translate all paperwork in a swiss national language or english. I have done it a few times, so I know the procedure quite well. I repeat, that is in case of need of urgent care only.They will not cover planned consultations abroad (unless u have complementary coverage)
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Old 14.03.2020, 19:18
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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There are two parts to this:

With all due respect there's one part to the original post.
"I'm abroad now. In case of any health problem... how could I get a work sign-off certificate?"
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Old 14.03.2020, 22:28
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

Part 1 - heatlh treatment cost reimbursed by Insurance.

Part 2 - certification to not return to work for a duration of ....?
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Old 14.03.2020, 22:55
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

Many thanks for all the answers! I also thought that most likely I would need to pay out of pocket for the treatment, then submit the cost to Assura and keep fingers crossed to have it covered.

My employer knows of course that I'm abroad, the point is that they perhaps would need a formal certificate for the insurance to let it cover my sign-off days salary, right?
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Old 14.03.2020, 23:27
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

Yes, if an employee is away because of illness, then they must inform the employer as soon as they know of the illness.

Some work contracts state some number of days of being off sick, for which no doctor's certificate is necessary. In that case, the salary is simply paid. Commonly this is 3 days, but some contracts need a doctor's certificate from day 1.

After that short period, yes, you need a formal doctor's certificate, as you say, to enable the employer to prove to their insurance that your salary must be covered. This, however, this does not need to be done by you, as it is a contract between your employer and their insurer (as opposed to your medical insurance).

Hope you're not very ill, and soon well, and soon home.
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Old 14.03.2020, 23:30
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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With all due respect there's one part to the original post.
"I'm abroad now. In case of any health problem... how could I get a work sign-off certificate?"
Fair enough. To me, this is one of those questions (of which fora have many) in which OP asked for some of the information, perhaps without realised that the other aspects would be connected, and where it would have seem churlish to give merely half an answer.
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Old 14.03.2020, 23:37
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Some work contracts state some number of days of being off sick, for which no doctor's certificate is necessary. In that case, the salary is simply paid. Commonly this is 3 days, but some contracts need a doctor's certificate from day 1.
Due to Corona they changed this for the time being to 5 days regardless of what contracts state in an attempt to bring a bit more relieve to doctors.
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Old 14.03.2020, 23:44
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

Thanks, Edwin. I thought I had read that somewhere, but then couldn't find an official link to it. Do you have one? Is this change national, or cantonal?
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Old 14.03.2020, 23:53
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Thanks, Edwin. I thought I had read that somewhere, but then couldn't find an official link to it. Do you have one? Is this change national, or cantonal?
I can find dozens of places from earlier this month saying that such would be implemented, but do not see it right away at the state website (truckload of things going on at the websites, and don't feel like scrolling everything)

I also see more and more doctors actually calling to scrap that whole system for the time being, they have better things to do atm and it is insanity that government says "have symptoms do stay at home" and than some employer says "screw it, drag your infectious body to your doctor for my bookkeeping"
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Old 15.03.2020, 00:59
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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I... it is insanity that government says "have symptoms do stay at home" and than some employer says "screw it, drag your infectious body to your doctor for my bookkeeping"
Isn't this still largely seen a question of costs, i.e. which insurance, fund or personal pocket will end up bearing the cost, if someone cancels something?

The person who has booked a cruise or flight hopes that the travel agency or the airline or the government will cancel or prohibit that trip, so they get their money back. The parent who is paying for child-care hopes that it'll be the creche that cancels, so that they as parents can get their money back (if there is any to be had).

Similarly, an employer hopes that the employee will send in a doctor's certificate, so that their insurance will cover the wages. Or alternatively that it'll be the municipality or canton or federal government that imposes the prohibition, so that the employer can try to claim from the emergency fund.

An aquaintance who is "the employer" in a Cantonal department, explained that they'd had to decide whether or not someone who'd had indirect contact (friend of a friend) with a positively tested person, should come back to work. He said that even within the Cantonal administration they're all hoping someone else will foot the bill: if he permits/orders an employee to stay home, then his department's budget is responsible for all the related costs, whereas if the Kantonsarzt pronounces the prohibition those costs must be borne by the department of the Kantonzarzt. Financially - but not, of course, organisationally - it'd be better for the Canton if the municipality would be the party to "blame".

A virus is no respecter of paper-shufflings, though, so it's hard to know what makes sense structurally, in a time-frame that's beyond an individual employee's illness.
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Old 15.03.2020, 07:01
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Thanks, Edwin. I thought I had read that somewhere, but then couldn't find an official link to it. Do you have one? Is this change national, or cantonal?
Recommendation from employers - towards the bottom under “other recommendations”

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...beitswelt.html
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Old 15.03.2020, 09:27
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Fair enough. To me, this is one of those questions (of which fora have many) in which OP asked for some of the information, perhaps without realised that the other aspects would be connected, and where it would have seem churlish to give merely half an answer.
The answers are very detailed, thank you all! It's true I never bothered with such when traveling through Europe assuming I would never get sick, maybe some emergency would happen but that's the emergency. However now I'm in a lockdown country, don't know how long it would really last (it's 2 weeks, initially). Anyway I don't think of coming back to Switzerland until my employer require us to stop working from home but come to the office. Even then I would probably ask for a few weeks of vacation/leave.

From the replies I understand that a Swiss based GP from my insurance model has nothing to do with regards of employer insurance. All I might need to do is to obtain (notary?) translation of my medical certificate.

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Recommendation from employers - towards the bottom under “other recommendations”

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...beitswelt.html
Thanks very much for the info!
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Old 15.03.2020, 13:26
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Isn't this still largely seen a question of costs, i.e. which insurance, fund or personal pocket will end up bearing the cost, if someone cancels something?

The person who has booked a cruise or flight hopes that the travel agency or the airline or the government will cancel or prohibit that trip, so they get their money back. The parent who is paying for child-care hopes that it'll be the creche that cancels, so that they as parents can get their money back (if there is any to be had).

Similarly, an employer hopes that the employee will send in a doctor's certificate, so that their insurance will cover the wages. Or alternatively that it'll be the municipality or canton or federal government that imposes the prohibition, so that the employer can try to claim from the emergency fund.

An aquaintance who is "the employer" in a Cantonal department, explained that they'd had to decide whether or not someone who'd had indirect contact (friend of a friend) with a positively tested person, should come back to work. He said that even within the Cantonal administration they're all hoping someone else will foot the bill: if he permits/orders an employee to stay home, then his department's budget is responsible for all the related costs, whereas if the Kantonsarzt pronounces the prohibition those costs must be borne by the department of the Kantonzarzt. Financially - but not, of course, organisationally - it'd be better for the Canton if the municipality would be the party to "blame".

A virus is no respecter of paper-shufflings, though, so it's hard to know what makes sense structurally, in a time-frame that's beyond an individual employee's illness.
We all know the reasons for getting a doctors note and none of them is actually to do with getting better or treating people, doctors are getting busier and busier and I agree with them that putting time in such bureaucratic stuff is something they can miss as much as a heavy toothache. Also who pays for what is not the concern of the doctor.

Government can simply overrule the need for such paper for the time being.
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Old 15.03.2020, 14:36
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Re: sign-off from work when being abroad?

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Some work contracts state some number of days of being off sick, for which no doctor's certificate is necessary. In that case, the salary is simply paid. Commonly this is 3 days, but some contracts need a doctor's certificate from day 1.
https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...beitswelt.html

The FOPH / BAG guidelines place an expectation on employers to be accommodating with regard to medical certificates, and not require a certificate until an employee has been absent for at least 5 days. The purpose of this guideline is to relieve the pressure on doctors and the health system.
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