When working with sick leave notes, it is necessary to pay attention to certain details not to violate the law. Employers often overlook checking:

  • The authenticity of sick leave notes;
  • Sick leave note duration;
  • Restrictions on childcare and maternity leave;
  • Payment of sick leave benefit to dismissed employees;
  • Electronic sick leave notes.

The consequences of such lack of attention range from disputes with employees to financial losses and even criminal liability when employees forge documents.

Sick leave notes forgery

Financial losses due to forged sick leave note

When employees submit a sick leave note, their employers pay benefit for temporary incapacity to work to these employees. This benefit is then reimbursed to the employer by the Social Insurance Fund. But the Social Insurance Fund will not reimburse such benefit if it finds out that the submitted sick note is fake.

In such case, employers are entitled to withhold from employees’ salaries the benefit not reimbursed to them by the Social Insurance Fund, but they cannot withhold more than 20% of this amount per month and, to do so, they need a written consent from the employees. If employees have been dismissed by the time document forgery is identified, then employers may recover from dismissed employees the amounts owed to them in court.

To avoid these troubles, we verify the authenticity of sick notes before paying benefits and recommend our clients to do the same.

Sick leave notes check

1. Color

A sick leave form should be blue, lighter towards the center and darker on the edges. The entire page consists of a background grid with yellow cells, and only the “doctor’s signature” field is with no grid. Blue, pink and light green threads are visible on the surface of the entire document, especially in the upper left corner of the document.

(sick leave note sample from Social Insurance Fund website)

2. Watermark

Authentic sick notes have a Social Insurance Fund watermark which is visible in the light.

3. Micto-texts

The line “doctor’s signature” is not just a line but consists of the repeated micro-text “sick note”. The same micro-text constituting lines is also found in the lower right corner where the manager and chief accountant are to affix their signature.

4. Seals

There should be 2 seals affixed on the form, and if a medical board is involved to issue a sick leave note, then there should be 3 seals.

5. Form integrity

Employees submit their sick leave notes without the lower tear-off part which remains at the medical facility that has issued them.

Sick leave note number check

If, after verifying sick leave note forms, doubts about the document authenticity still remain, employers can call the regional office of the Social Insurance Fund of Russia to find out whether the number of the forms they have is authentic and valid. A list of original but lost or stolen sick leave note forms can also be found on the website of the Social Insurance Fund.

Liability for forging sick leave notes

Employees who have forged sick leave notes may be subject to:

  • Disciplinary action (from reprimand, loss of bonus to dismissal);
  • Material liability (withholding of improperly paid benefit);
  • Criminal liability (when documents are forged by employees themselves (Article 327(1) Criminal Code):
    • restriction of freedom for up to 2 years;
    • community service for up to 2 years;
    • custody for up to 6 months;
    • imprisonment for up to 2 years.

Sick leave note duration

Sick leave duration is filled out in a separate field. Doctors are entitled to issue sick notes for a maximum of 15 calendar days. If the patient has not got better within those 15 days, then a medical board will decide whether the sick leave can be extended.

Sick leave cannot exceed 10 months and may sometimes be extended up to a year in case of:

  • tuberculosis;
  • post-surgery;
  • major injury.

The disability registration procedure is initiated in case of unfavorable prognosis.

Restrictions on childcare leave

Only a certain number of days are paid for sick leave to care for a sick child depending on the age of the child.

Employers must monitor the number of sick days to avoid overpaying employees.

Child age Sick leave Restriction on payment, days per year
Up to 7 Entire tereatment period 60 (90 — for some diseases)
7–15 15 45
Over 15 7 30

Maternity leave

Maternity leave, in most cases, consists of 140 days, i.e. 70 days before birth and 70 days after birth. In case of surgery or complications, an additional 16 days are granted. The maximum duration of maternity leave is 194 days, and it is granted in case of multiple pregnancy. Unlike all other benefits, maternity benefit is not subject to personal income tax.

Payment of sick leave benefit to dismissed employees

Employers must pay sick leave benefit to dismissed employees if a sick leave form is issued within 30 days of their employees’ dismissal date, and in such case:

  • the employee must submit the sick note within 6 months of health recovery;
  • the employee should not be employed and work for another employer at the time of illness as evidenced by his/her employment record book;
  • sick leave benefit is paid only for dismissed employees; childcare and relative benefits are not paid;
  • if a dismissed employee submits a sick note for maternity leave, their former employer will not be required to pay maternity leave.

Employers should pay sick leave benefit within 10 days of sick note receipt.

As a rule, benefit is paid in advance or with salaries. If employers fail to pay sick leave benefit within 10 days, they will be required to pay compensation as follows:

Compensation = Unpaid amount * 1/150 Central Bank rate * number of overdue days

Electronic sick leave notes

Sick leave notes have been issued electronically since 2017. Electronic and paper sick leave notes have the same legal force.

Using electronic sick notes eliminates the risk of document forgery and makes it easier to monitor the number of sick days. Electronic sick notes cannot be inaccurately filled out or lost.

To use electronic sick notes, it is necessary to have a computer with an internet connection, an electronic signature and be registered on the website of the Social Insurance Fund so only organizations with electronic document management in place can use electronic sick notes.


When working with paper sick leave notes, it is necessary to verify the authenticity of the document received as well as the correctness of execution, calculations, filling out and payment. Once the Social Insurance Fund has verified the documentation and calculations, the amount of benefit paid to employees will be refunded in full to their employers.

We provide HR management services. Our experts are aware of all the ins and outs of HR recordkeeping and constantly monitor changes in related legislation.

If you have any questions about HR paperwork, please do not hesitate to contact us.