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Illness during holidays – what you need to know about substitute leave

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Lisbeth Linddorff Riis

Lisbeth Linddorff Riis

Denmark HR, Payroll & Staffing Expert

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Illness during holidays – what you need to know about substitute leave

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Illness before leave

If an employee becomes ill before the start of their planned leave, they will not be required to take the leave. It is important that the employee substantiates that the illness is a hindrance. The employee is entitled to substitute leave if they:

  • report their illness to the employer before the start of normal working hours on the first day of leave, cf. the company's general rules for notification of illness
  • ensure documentation of the illness, either through a solemn declaration or a doctor's note. If the employer requests a doctor's note, the employer must pay for this

Illness during leave

If an employee who has earned 25 days of leave becomes ill during their holiday, they will be entitled to substitute leave after 5 days of sick leave, calculated over a holiday year. An employee who has earned fewer than 25 days of leave will be entitled to substitute leave of proportionally fewer days.

The basis for calculating the number of days for which the employee will not be entitled to substitute leave is the number of earned leave days multiplied by 0.2. For example, an employee who has earned 10 days of leave will be entitled to substitute leave after 2 days of illness. The first days of illness are called waiting days, and they do not have to be successive. The employee's entitlement to substitute leave is subject to them:

  • reporting their illness to the employer before the start of normal working hours on the first day of illness, cf. the company's general rules for notification of illness
  • providing documentation of the illness from their doctor. The employee bears the cost of the medical documentation, which must be issued on the first day, regardless of whether the employee is abroad or in their home country

Other factors you should be aware of

If the employee recovers within the planned leave period, they must report fit for duty with information on whether they intend to take the rest of their leave or start work. If the employee is prevented from using their substitute leave during a holiday year due to illness, it is possible to postpone the leave until the next holiday year.

Note that substitute leave only applies to regular leave days and not to extra leave days. However, this is still possible under certain collective agreements. Furthermore, substitute leave is only an option when employees become ill themselves; it does not apply when children or spouses become ill during the leave.

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