Sickness on vacation - which rules apply in the Nordics?

Payroll and HR | 15.06.2023

by Therese Eftevaag

Lighter days are ahead of us and we are now approaching the high season for summer vacation. And isn’t it typical, once the holiday finally starts, a flu kicks in and suddenly the long-awaited summer heat is now switched out with a fever. One thing is certain: everyone gets sick from time to time, regardless of time and place. But the vacation rules, on the other hand, seem to vary quite a lot across the borders.

In this article we will give you an overview of the different rules that apply in the Nordic countries when illness occurs in the holiday. 

Vacation days are leave that an employee has worked together and that is intended to be used for relaxation and the opportunity to engage in other things than work. Should an employee become ill, the person has the right to interrupt the holiday and take their holiday days at another time.


Illness before the holiday

  • If an employee becomes ill before the holiday, he or she can demand that the planned holiday be postponed until later in the holiday year. The following conditions must be met for deferral to be claimed: The employee must be completely incapacitated for work, the disability must be documented with a doctor's certificate, the employee must submit a claim to postpone the holiday no later than the last working day before the holiday.
  • If an employee requires a postponed holiday in accordance with these rules, the entire planned holiday is postponed in principle. If a three-week summer holiday is planned, but the employee becomes ill before the holiday and has to postpone it, as a general rule all three weeks will be postponed. Employees must then return to work as soon as they have been declared healthy, even if this is during the originally agreed holiday period.

Illness during the holidays

  • From the first day of illness, the employee can request a holiday refund. Then a corresponding number of holiday days the person in question has been ill on, can be postponed and given as a new holiday later in the holiday year. The following conditions must also be met in order to get a postponement: the employee must be completely incapacitated for work, the disability must be documented with a doctor's certificate, the employee must submit the claim without undue delay after the work has resumed.
  • An employee can wait to promote the requirement to postpone the holidays until after the holiday, but the claim should not be submitted later than 14 days after the holiday. 
  • As mentioned above, this provision can also be used where the disability begins before the holiday. Instead of claiming the entire holiday postponed, the employee can instead claim back the holidays that "collide" with the illness.

Sick child in the holiday

The rules on illness during the holidays in Norway apply only to our own illness. The Norwegian Holidays Act does not give any rights if other family members become ill. If a child becomes ill, the holiday must be taken as planned.


Illness before the holidays begin

  • The rules regarding illness and holidays depend on whether you have become ill before or after the holiday has begun. The holiday begins on the day you normally should have been at work. 
  • The employer can not demand that you take your holiday if you have become ill before your holiday has begun. This means that if you go on holiday on a Friday, then the holiday will not really start until Monday, so if you get sick on Saturday, you can postpone your vacation. 
  • However, you just have to remember to report sickness as soon as possible. If your workplace is closed, you must be able to prove that you have tried to report sick, via email or letter.

Illness after the holiday has begun

  • If you become ill while on holiday, you may be entitled to compensatory holiday, which you can then use at a later date during the holiday period. Just as if you had become ill before the holiday had begun, you must also remember to report sick as soon as possible. You must have a medical certificate which is valid from the first day of illness, this also applies if you are abroad.
  • However, you must be aware that you can not get all your vacation days replaced. The first 5 sick days are called “karensdage” and can not be replaced. (Karensdage means waiting days). You are therefore only entitled to compensation for your holidays after five days of illness. 
  • If your employment does not last the entire holiday year, your employer must down-regulate the number of waiting days so that it roughly matches how long you have been employed. However, you can only reduce the waiting days when the employment ends as you earn a holiday at the same time as you hold it.
  • If you get well again during your holiday, you must report it to your employer. You are not entitled to take the rest of the holiday immediately or take a replacement holiday immediately. The planning of the replacement holiday must be done when you start working again.

Sick child in the holiday

If a child or a family member gets sick during the holiday, this will not be compensated due to the Danish holiday regulations.


  • According to the Swedish Holidays Act, the employee has the right to have corresponding holiday days considered as sick days (under the same conditions that apply in the event of sick leave during regular working hours). If your company is a party to a collective agreement, the rules of the collective agreement apply before the Holiday Act.
  • If an employee cancels the holiday: The employee must notify you as an employer without delay that you have become ill during the holiday. What "without delay" means can vary, in many cases the employee must report illness during the holiday directly at the time of illness. There is usually a company policy for this, but in some cases it can also be regulated in collective agreements. As an employer, you can request that the employee substantiate the reasons why the holiday was interrupted, these reasons must, according to practice, meet the conditions for entitlement to sickness benefit.
  • Compensation for illness during the holiday to the employee is paid by the company in the same way as illness during regular working hours. How the compensation is structured can differ from company to company, in general the following applies: The first day is a “waiting day” and will not be compensated by the employer. 

During days 2-14, your company pays sick pay to the employee. After 14 days, the employee needs to apply for sickness benefits from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.

Sick child in the holiday

Should it instead be the employee's children who become ill, it is possible to exchange vacation days for temporary parental benefit. In this case, the employee needs to notify you as the employer that you intend to change your holiday to VAB and turn to “Försäkringskassan” (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency). VAB is when an employee stays home from work to take care of a sick child. Försäkringskassan pays the compensation, which is called temporary parental benefit. This applies when employees are on holiday.


Illness before the holidays begin

  • Also in Finland, if an employee is taken ill before the start of an agreed holiday or during the holiday, it is important to inform the  employer without delay in order to request the employer to postpone your holiday to a later date.

Illness during the holiday

  • In Finland, it is possible to only apply for a reschedule or a holiday refund after 6 days, which is the maximum number of “waiting days”. So if you are still in bad shape after 6 days, you can apply for a holiday refund, but only if the holidays exceed 4 weeks. (The waiting days must not decrease the employee’s right to a four-week annual holiday). For example, if you are sick for 10 days in total, 6 of the days are still counted as holiday, but the remaining 4 can be “refunded” and saved for later. 
  • The employee may not continue the holiday with the corresponding amount of days on it’s own initiative. The employer will determine the time of the new holiday.
  • The employer must give the employee a holiday pay slip in connection with payment of holiday pay. This must show the amount of holiday pay or holiday compensation and the basis for its calculation.

Sick child in the holiday

If a child or a family member gets sick during the holiday, this will not be compensated due to the Finnish holiday regulations.

Get help to follow up on sick leave!

Azets can help you with statutory follow-up of sick leavers, control the receipt of all reimbursements you are entitled to and come up with specific measures to reduce sick leave.

post author

About Therese Eftevaag

Therese is Product Marketing Coordinator at Azets. She is taking good care of our product portfolio by creating content and making sure the good stories come to light. She has a degree in marketing and HR and a passionate interest in communication - especially making complex information understandable for everyone.