Sick note clampdown stops French workers ‘shopping around’ online

Permission to stay at home will soon only be accessible from your designated GP – but the tighter rules have been met with criticism

Previously, sick notes could be issued after internet consultations with other doctors
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Workers will no longer be able to get sick notes online except from their nominated GP (médecin traitant) from June 2023.

Since the introduction of internet consultations (téléconsultations), there has been an “explosion” in the number of sick notes (arrêts de travail) signed by doctors who are not the médecin traitant of the person, said minister for public accounts Gabriel Attal.

He said that such sick notes cost around €100million last year.

How do sick notes work in France?

In France, you are entitled to sick pay after three days if you have a doctor’s note explaining the illness or injury and how long you will be off work. It applies to sickness, injuries at work or on the way to work, or job-related ailments such as stress or repetitive strain injuries.

Independent workers are now covered as long as they have paid social security for at least 12 months. Payouts vary according to the amount paid into social security.

New law doesn’t address the real problem

Mr Attal said the measure was to prevent workers having “a series of internet consultations until they find a doctor who will sign the note”.

However, the move was criticised by some MPs, who said the real problem to be addressed was a lack of doctors in rural areas.

Read more: Eight facts to understand France’s issue of ‘medical deserts’

An estimated 10% of people in France do not have a médecin traitant, with some saying they have been unable to find a new one after the retirement of their previous doctor.

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