Electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU):

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Electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU):
with what must employers comply?


No doubt you have already heard about it: the certificate of incapacity to work (AU) in paper form (Model 1), also called the “yellow certificate”, will soon be a thing of the past. The certificate of incapacity is to be replaced by an electronic procedure – the electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU). So, when the electronic certificate finally comes into force, your employees will no longer need to submit a certificate of incapacity to work. Instead, the statutory medical insurers will supply you with the electronic-certificate data. A digital sick-note, to save time and costs – sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? But in launching the electronic certificate there have been some bumps on the way. So at the moment, since 1 January 2022, the electronic procedure is still only at a test stage. 


When will the electronic certificate (eAU) come into force?

Originally the electronic certificate was meant to go live as of 1 January 2022. Due to technical implementation problems in medical practices and the obstacles posed by the Covid pandemic, however, it was then postponed to 1 July 2022, and recently, by a resolution of the German Parliament of 18 February 2022, postponed yet again: the new launch of the electronic certificate of incapacity to work will now be 1 January 2023. Thus the existing test stage, which has been in force since 1 January 2022, will be running until at least 31 December 2022.

Are you familiar with the present statutory regulations covering the various aspects of the certificate of incapacity to work? At the moment the provision of sick notes is in some chaos. Only few people know about the new incapacity certificate. And irritation is spreading among many employers. The procedure, such is the impression, has not reached a stage of mature development and seems to those involved to be too laborious – yet it was intended to reduce the burden felt by both employers and employees, and to reduce bureaucracy, through direct digital transmission. 


Electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU) during test stage: with what must employers comply?

During the test stage which has been running since 1 January all contractual medical practitioners who are technically capable of doing so must transmit their patients’ sick-note data electronically to the medical insurer concerned. All other practitioners, having ascertained incapacity to work, will hand out duplicate paper certificates (yellow certificates) – one for the statutory medical insurer and one for the employer. If, as an employer, you are already so technically enabled, you can call up the incapacity-certificate data electronically from the medical insurer. At present, however, the general rule is that until the end of the test stage all contractual medical practitioners who are already issuing an electronic certificate (eAU) must also in addition hand out paper certificates for the medical insurers, which the patient passes on to his employer within the set deadline. The next step envisages that employees will merely inform you as the employer that they have a sick note and you will then call up the electronic-certificate data from the medical insurer.   


What changes does the electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU) bring – what remains unchanged?

On present plans, once the electronic certificate comes into full force on 1 January 2023, there will be some changes, while other things remain unchanged. Here are the most important aspects in brief:


  • Employees will no longer need to submit an incapacity-to-work certificate to their employer
  • Employers must or can proactively call up their employees’ incapacity-to-work certificates from the statutory medical insurers
  • The duty of information relating to incapacity to work and its anticipated duration will remain
  • Employees’ duty of proof will remain; they must continue to have their incapacity to work and its duration confirmed by a medical practitioner


More time for technical and organisational preparations

Complete live deployment of the electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU) is currently planned for 1 January 2023. On the one hand, this will give medical practices more time to cope with the technical details, e.g. with the KIM communication standard for encrypted and signed eAU data transfers, with the installation of medical-practice software updates for automated error checking, or with the adaptation of the eAU interface. On the other, as an employer you will be able to familiarise yourself with the details of the eAU and the technical and organisational problems connected with it. Perhaps, however, you would like to get the matter off your shoulders completely? Then it would be a good idea to outsource the electronic certificate of incapacity to work fully with all HR tasks including payroll accounting, for instance to a tried and tested personnel-services providers such as B.I.P. GmbH. In this way you will be able to concentrate on your core tasks.


The electronic certificate (eAU) – not at all just simple IT

What looks like a bunch of simple classical IT turns out in reality to be a real challenge – for all those concerned. You as an employer will also be faced with unanticipated questions involving the electronic certificate. There follows a short excursion into the FAQ realm, covering the future digital certificate of incapacity to work. 


5 questions about the digital certificate of incapacity to work (eAU) – do you have an answer to them?

  1. How do I deal with my employees who report sick but don’t go to a doctor (no eAU certificate)?
  2. Does the digital certificate (eAU) take account of my employees who have private medical insurance?
  3. Does the digital certificate (eAU) affect my mini-job employees and what must I do about them?
  4. What happens if my employee's incapacity to work lasts longer than six weeks?
  5. What am I to do if the medical insurer has submitted an electronic certificate (eAU) from an employee but the employee comes to work?


Did you have to pass on one or more questions? Get help from a professional personnel-services provider who knows all about it.




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by Till Achim Lobenstein


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