End of an era! The “yellow certificate” will be abolished from January 1st, 2023. The sick note will soon only be available digitally. However, there are some exceptions and important rules. FOCUS online summarizes what changes for you if you let your doctor write you off sick.

The AU certificate is now called eAU – and that has a direct impact on millions of people.

The most important change is that anyone who takes sick leave from January 1, 2023 no longer has to worry about the yellow note. Employers then receive the AU certificate electronically directly from the health insurance company. The health insurance company, in turn, is informed electronically by the doctor’s practice.

So far, employees have been obliged to inform their boss about their inability to work as soon as possible. Many companies accept a scanned document, others require it to be sent by post. “The obligation to present the certificate of incapacity for work in paper form will no longer apply from January 1, 2023,” says Alexander Bredereck, a specialist lawyer for labor law in Berlin.

When a certificate of incapacity for work must be submitted to the employer depends on the employment contract. For the most part, sick leave must be received by the fourth day at the latest. However, there are companies that require a certificate of incapacity to work from the first day of sick leave.

What does not change: If you feel ill, you must continue to inform your employer immediately about your incapacity to work. If you go to a doctor’s office and you are given sick leave, you should inform your boss about the duration of the absence – either by telephone or e-mail.

The sick note itself goes through the health insurance company to the employer, provided you are legally insured.

FOCUS online advises: Make sure you have the sick leave confirmed in writing by the doctor’s office. Ideally, put the AU certificate in your files.

The written expression still fulfills an important function in the event that the employer doubts the inability to work, says legal expert Alexander Bredereck. With the printout, an employee proves that he or she was actually unable to work. “This is the only way for the employee to secure their right to continued payment of wages and avoid a warning or dismissal for inactivity.”

In addition, not all doctors can transmit the electronic sick note at the start. Ideally, clarify with the practice who will forward the sick note to the employer.

In many cases, the practices refer to the health insurance company and then the following applies to you: As a precaution, forward the certificate of incapacity to work directly to the boss. This saves time and hassle.

According to the current status, private patients are still exempt from the rule. The electronic unemployment certificate is initially valid for everyone who is legally insured. If private doctors, rehabilitation clinics, physiotherapists and psychotherapists write you off sick, you must continue to forward the inability to work to the boss in writing and electronically. If you become ill while on holiday, you still have to make your way to the post office. Even foreign doctors or clinics have not yet been able to send an electronic certificate of incapacity to work to the employer.

FOCUS online says: At the beginning there may still be difficulties. Two is Better! Have a written AU issued and send this document to your boss as a photo or scan.

If you become ill between the years, the following applies: You must forward the AU certificate to the boss yourself by December 31st. From January 1, 2023, you only have to do this legally in exceptional cases, but as a precaution, you should at least ask for a written printout and clarify in advance whether the doctor’s practice will actually forward the document to the employer via the health insurance company.


As with the yellow slip, the employer does not find out anything about the diagnosis or the findings with the eAU procedure.

“He only finds out whether the continued inability to work or a new inability to work is due to the same illness,” says Bredereck.

According to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV), the data set that is sent to the employer no longer contains any information about the treating doctor. According to Helge Dickau, spokesman for the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, employers use certified systems to access the eAU from the health insurance funds. Data protection is guaranteed.

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