Can an employee on sick leave go for a jog? The Supreme Court answers, “Not if the doctor didn’t say so”.
In order to practice a sporting activity during a work stoppage, the employee must be expressly authorised in advance by the attending physician, directly on the notice of stoppage. Otherwise, the payment of daily allowances will be suspended (according an unpublished decision of the Supreme Court dated of 28 May 2020). Moreover, a corrective certificate from the physician is insufficient.
In the event of sick leave, the payment of daily social security benefits is subject, in particular, to the prohibition of any unauthorised activity. The employee may nevertheless be permitted by his doctor to carry out an activity, such as jogging during his sick leave. Such authorisation, if it is included in the work stoppage notice, shall not prevent the payment of daily allowances to the employee.
In the case at hand, an employee was on sick leave due to his serious depression resulting from a difficult professional environment. The Social Security Administration suspended the payment of daily allowances related to his work stoppage, due to the practice of an unauthorised activity: running. In the initial ruling, the Social Security Court ruled that the employee was entitled to receive the daily allowance. It noted that the activity carried out by the insured person was not prohibited and that a certificate, drawn up afterwards by his attending physician, encouraged him to continue jogging. The Social Security Administration appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the payment of the daily allowance was subject to the individual’s obligation to refrain from any activity not expressly and previously authorised.
The Court of Cassation approved of the Social Security Administration’s reasoning, e.g., the prescribing doctor had not previously and expressly authorised the employee to engage in the activity of jogging. Consequently, the employee was not entitled to any allowance. Such a situation could, although this specific issue was not a point of contention in this case, also permit an employer to initiate a procedure seeking to reduce the wages paid during the period of sick leave.