Information for the customers of Mehiläinen Working Life Services concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19)

26.4.2021

Teams Live -info sessions about the coronavirus situation

We will inform our company customers about current situation of corona virus pandemic at Teams Live -info sessions (in Finnish). Our company customers have also asked for a written document that could be shared to personnel and this updated pdf-document with current information about the pandemic can be also found from the link below.

Participation links to upcoming Teams Live -info sessions:

During the information session, you will get answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination. The information session will be held by Piia Salminen, Mehiläinen’s Service Manager, and Professor Simo Nikkari, who acts as a consultant to Mehiläinen’s pandemic group. Nikkari is a Specialist in Clinical Microbiology and Medical Administration, and an Adjunct Professor in Medical Microbiology. He has led the the Finnish Centre for Biothreat Preparedness and, as Finland’s representative, has promoted the development of external country assessments under the Global Health Security Agenda together with the WHO and other international partners.

Previous Teams Live recordings:

Downloadable instructions to your company:

Updated summary of the corona virus situation ( pdf, 1.58 MB) (updated 9th of April 2021, in Finnish)

Instructions on how to wear a face mask ( pdf, 431 kB) (updated 23rd of February 2021)

COVID-19 vaccinations in occupational healthcare – vaccination is progressing in accordance with municipal guidelines

Mehiläinen cooperates with municipalities to organise vaccination, and occupational healthcare participates in the vaccinations as agreed with each municipality. Vaccination is progressing in accordance with the national vaccination order and in several municipalities vaccinations are now administered for people of working age in at-risk groups.

Occupational health participates in vaccinations as agreed with each municipality, and we offer the opportunity to vaccinate your staff in all municipalities where this is possible. COVID-19 vaccinations are separately agreed upon with businesses. You can find more information about vaccinations from Frequently asked questions section at the bottom of the page or from your own account manager or contact person.

If you want to include COVID-19 vaccinations in your occupational health agreement, please contact your occupational health contact person or your account manager.

Learn more: Additional information on COVID-19 vaccinations and frequently asked questions (in Finnish)

Safety at work

Mehiläinen Working Life Services wants to do its part to help workplaces establish safe operating methods and practices to ensure the maximum safety of working. For this purpose, we have created a concise information package about returning to work for our corporate customers and collected information and links about current issues in working life and the safety of working. More information about these matters, and support and help in planning the safety of your workplace, is available from your occupational health team.

Safety at work - Support for workplaces from occupational health care services

If you are ill or you suspect that you may have the corona virus, please do the following:

  • If you have symptoms of a mild respiratory infection – such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat, body aches, fever or diarrhea and you need a referral to corona virus testing, primarily contact Digital Clinic. If needed, we will assess your need for physical examination and refer you to further examination and an appointment with a doctor. You can also book a remote appointment for occupational health physician or nurse to assess your situation and to get the referral for the test.
  • If your respiratory tract infection symptoms are severe and you feel you need help quickly, call us on 010 414 1848 (0,0835 €/call + 0,1669 €/min) so we can refer you quickly to a special clinic for respiratory tract symptoms for further examination. You can book time for this also online.
  • In urgent cases, please contact the emergency number 112

Read more: THL’s home care instructions (in Finnish) 

Annika Jalli, Medical director, Occupational Health

Corona virus (COVID19) - Frequently asked questions

How to instruct the personnel and supervisors when suspecting a COVID-19 infection

According to the most recent estimates, the infectiousness of a person infected with COVID-19 starts approximately 1–2 days before the onset of symptoms. However, some of those infected can be completely asymptomatic or experience very mild symptoms and still spread the disease. It is important to take this into account when considering protection against infection.

Protecting yourself against COVID-19 is similar to protecting yourself against other pathogens that cause respiratory tract infections. It is important to wash your hands, cough into your sleeve or a tissue and use a mask according to instructions. Avoid unnecessary close contact with other people. Remote work and remote meetings are recommended whenever work tasks allow. If remote work is not an option, other types of arrangements should be organised to minimise exposure to the virus. Social interaction in the break rooms, cafeterias and staff rooms of workplaces should also be limited.

No one should go to work if they feel ill. Even with only mild symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 (runny nose, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhoea/nausea, fever or reduced sense of smell/taste) and when suspecting a COVID-19 infection, it is important to avoid close contact and get tested. Stay home until the test results arrive and your symptoms pass. You can return to work after a negative test in accordance with the employer's instructions, if you feel healthy enough to do so. However, if you strongly suspect a COVID-19 infection, consider getting tested again before returning to work/normal life. Those placed in quarantine due to exposure to the virus must stay home until the end of the quarantine ordered by the doctor in charge of communicable diseases.

Those suspecting a COVID-19 infection receive a referral for a COVID-19 test at Mehiläinen from the Digital Clinic, doctors’ remote appointments or the respiratory tract infection clinic. Digital Clinic is at your service without booking an appointment. Remote appointments and appointments at the respiratory tract infection clinics can be booked through the usual channels (online booking, OmaMehiläinen booking, OmaTyöterveys telephone service or TerveysHelppi).

In line with the THL guidelines, we offer COVID-19 test referrals to anyone experiencing symptoms matching those of a COVID-19 infection or who are suspected of having a COVID-19 infection on the basis of an assessment by a healthcare professional. If testing is not included in your occupational health agreement, we offer instructions on contacting public testing providers, for example through the Omaolo service. In the case of acute severe symptoms, call the emergency clinic of your local public health care service provider or the emergency number 112. For other, for example work-related test needs, occupational health customers can contact their occupational health nurse or doctor by booking an appointment or remote appointment.

Information about COVID-19 (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) 

Guidelines for workplaces concerning the corona virus epidemic (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health) 

Information about COVID-19 (Mehiläinen)

Corona virus tests at Mehiläinen

COVID-19 vaccinations in occupational healthcare

Mehiläinen cooperates with municipalities to organise vaccination, and occupational healthcare participates in the vaccinations as agreed with each municipality.Vaccination is progressing in accordance with the national vaccination order  and in several municipalities vaccinations are now administered for people of working age in at-risk groups.

On 16 April 2021, the Government amended the decree on voluntary Covid-19 vaccinations (the so-called Covid-19 vaccination decree). The decree clarifies the previous vaccination order in Finland. After vaccination of at-risk groups, social welfare and health care staff providing care for COVID-19 patients and the elderly, other citizens will be vaccinated in line with their age group. The vaccinations will be carried out in descending order of age: ages 60–69, 50–59, 40–49, 30–39 and 16–29. Learn more on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 

Occupational health participates in vaccinations as agreed with each municipality, and we offer the opportunity to vaccinate your staff in all municipalities where this is possible. COVID-19 vaccinations are separately agreed upon with businesses. The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone, but, with vaccinations given in occupational healthcare, the employer incurs vaccination costs of EUR 25 per vaccination appointment.With the current vaccines, two appointments will be needed. Kela reimburses employers for part of the costs of COVID-19 vaccination procedures. The employer can choose to apply for reimbursement either as part of the occupational health care Kela compensation in reimbursement category 1 or as direct compensation under the temporary amendment to the Health Insurance Act. The reimbursement is EUR ten (10) per vaccination. Learn more on the Kela website

Return to work and infectious disease allowance for those infected with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine

The general principles and instructions on the isolation of COVID-19 patients, the assessment of exposure and the quarantine of those exposed to the virus can be found on the THL website . However, the decisions on the duration of isolation and quarantine are always made by the doctor in charge of communicable diseases, and those placed in isolation or quarantine must stay home until the end of the isolation or quarantine ordered by the doctor in charge of communicable diseases. If necessary, the communicable disease unit can also assess the need for continuing the isolation/quarantine before its end date.

A decision regarding isolation or absence from work, daycare or an educational institution must be made in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act (1227/2016). The employer/employee can apply for an infectious disease allowance by delivering the decision. A recommendation or request to stay at home made by the employer or an alert in Koronavilkku is not sufficient for the payment of infectious disease allowance.

More information about the infectious disease allowance (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland) 

At-risk groups and working during the epidemic

As a general rule, people of working age (under 70) who are able to work do not need to be absent from work because of the COVID-19 epidemic. Instead, increased attention must be paid to the minimization of risks and making protective arrangements, if necessary. However, all situations must be assessed on a case-by-case basis by paying attention to the risk of exposure related to the work, the possibility of using personal protective equipment and the employee’s condition.

As part of the risk assessment, the employer must assess whether the employees’ risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection is higher than the risk of other population groups. The risk assessment must include, for example, the number and duration of personal contacts and the availability of protection. The occupational health physician will assist you in the assessment of work-related risks, if necessary.

Guidelines for workplaces concerning the COVID-19 epidemic (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health) 

Personal occupational health physicians or attending doctors can assist employees in the assessment of personal risk and the need for protection, if necessary. If possible, remote work or alternative tasks that include a lower risk of exposure should be preferred.If the employer so requires, the occupational health physician can deliver a statement on an employee’s capacity for work during the COVID-19 epidemic . If an employee’s family member is part of a high-risk group, the employee can usually continue working. The risk assessment of family members is carried out by the family member’s attending physician.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s instructions for employees who are susceptible to the more severe forms of COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus

Guidelines for workplaces concerning the corona virus epidemic (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health) 

Pregnancy and COVID-19

Changes in the immune system of a pregnant person can expose them to severe viral infections. Due to the physiological changes caused by pregnancy, pregnant people can be more susceptible to severe respiratory tract symptoms in the third trimester of the pregnancy.

According to current research data, it seems that the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection is higher if the person is pregnant and has a underlying condition, such as considerable obesity, that makes them more susceptible to a severe COVID-19 infection. Pregnant people are also more susceptible to an embolism if they contract COVID-19.

According to current knowledge, COVID-19 does not cause any foetal anomalies.

The latest studies show that the corona virus may be transmitted from the mother to the unborn child by blood, but the significance of this mode of transmission is still unclear. The majority of newborn babies with an infection only experience mild symptoms that subside quickly. According to current knowledge, there have been no severe consequences to foetuses even if the pregnant mother contracted COVID-19 in the final stages of pregnancy.

As there is no certainty of the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant health care sector employees should not work in units where COVID-19 patients are treated. Particularly in the later stages of pregnancy (from pregnancy week 28 onwards), it is important to pay attention to the physical strain of working with personal protective equipment.

Whether pregnant employees can work safely or whether they should be transferred to other tasks should be considered in all units where unscreened infection patients are treated. The risks posed to pregnant employees in dental care, early education and child welfare service units should also be considered and, if necessary, any actions based on these considerations should be taken.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health: Frequently asked questions and answers (incl. instructions concerning pregnant employees and special maternity allowance)

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare: Pregnancy and corona virus 

Occupational health care services for temporarily or permanently laid off employees

Whenever temporary layoffs are made, employees are entitled to at least the statutory occupational health care services
(Occupational health care services in the event of layoffs, dismissals and possible unemployment, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 22 April 2009).

Under certain circumstances, employers are obligated to provide employees who have been dismissed on financial or production-related grounds with occupational health care services for six months from the end of the employee’s obligation to perform their duties (Occupational Health Care Act 1383/2001, section 2, subsection 3).

Medical care services and any additional services are available according to the occupational health agreement, unless otherwise agreed with the employer. We strongly recommend continuing to provide these voluntary occupational health care services at least during the COVID-19 epidemic. We can also offer companies and their employees support in the face of changes and unemployment according to a separate agreement.

If you need to make changes to your occupational health agreement or you need support in the face of changes, please contact your own contact person (occupational health nurse or account manager).

Recommendations concerning sick leave policies during the epidemic

By relaxing the rules on sickness-related absences, the employer can reduce unnecessary pressure on the health care system during the epidemic and help it focus its resources on those who need them the most. That is why we recommend that all employers extend their policies concerning self-reporting of sickness-related absences. Kela does not require a sick leave certificate during the waiting period (1+9 days),

and supervisors can issue additional sick leaves according to the condition of the employee in sicknesses other than suspected COVID-19 infections. The occupational health care service provider and the experts of Digital Clinic only issue sick leave certificates in cases of incapacity for work. This means that we do not issue sick leave certificates to asymptomatic people who have been exposed to COVID-19 or who are returning from a trip, for example.

Practical guidelines and recommendations for businesses during the epidemic by the Confederation of Finnish industries