Sick Leave Netherlands: Mandatory Regulations & Rules.

In the Netherlands, employees are entitled to paid sick leave from the first day of illness for up to two years if the illness prevents them from working. During this period, employers are responsible for covering the employee’s salary. If the employee has a burnout, personal injury, depression, the flu, or a cold the employee is allowed to take sick leave.

Sickness benefit in the Netherlands is subject to strict regulations, requiring adherence to certain procedures by both the employer and employee. The obligations of both parties are straightforward according to Dutch employment law and should be reflecting in the company’s Sick Leave policy.

Understanding the underlying causes of absenteeism is crucial for organisations in the Netherlands aiming to mitigate its impact on productivity and employee well-being.

Sickness means, as a result of a physical or mental condition, as defined in Article 7:629 of the Dutch Civil Code (BW), the employee is not able to perform or fully perform the work agreed to during the term of employment. In this article you will read more about the Sick Leave Netherlands policies and procedures.

Reintegration [reintegratie] means working towards full recovery (if possible) and this is the main objective during the Sick Leave.

Dutch Law on Sick Leave

Employer and Employee

Employers, employees and the government have a strong common interest in good working conditions. The Dutch working Conditions Act [Arbeidsomstandighedenwet/Arbowet] requires every employer to conduct a health and safety policy aimed to provide optimal working conditions for employees. Absenteeism can be prevented, controlled and influenced by employers and it is important to know the underlying causes of absenteeism.

The employee and the employer are jointly responsible for the recovery of the employee. The aim is to reintegrate the employee back to work as soon as possible. They work together on the coaching and activities aimed at this, such as training, education, partial resumption of work and work adaptation. The employee will adopt an active approach during this process.

The law sets all sorts of obligations for both the employee and the employer to facilitate as much as possible the speedy recovery of the employee.

Occupational Health & Safety Service Provider

Arbo in the Netherlands is the abbreviated Dutch term for working conditions. The Occupational Health and Safety Service (OHSS) provider, in Dutch Arbodienst, plays a crucial role in assisting businesses in maintaining optimal working conditions.

The Occupational Health and Safety Service provider is an independent organisation which offers services regarding Working Conditions, mandatory Risk Inventory & Evaluation (RI&E) and Sick Leave in the Netherlands.

By Dutch employment law, some parts of Sick Leave Netherlands process has to be outsourced and executed by the Occupational Health & Safety Service provider.

Company Doctor

The Company Doctor gives advice in the area of employment and health and is usually working at the Occupational Health & Safety Service provider.

The Company Doctor supports the employee and employer during the reintegration phase, to make sure the employee will return to work as quickly and responsibly as possible. After each visit, the doctor will provide advice to the employee, employer and Case Manager about the next steps.

Case Manager

The Case Manager is responsible to coordinate and manage the full end-to-end Absenteeism process. By law, the employer has to appoint a Case Manager (internal or external) to make sure the execution of the process will be followed according accurately. The main contacts of the Case Manager are with employee and employer/manager, Occupational Health & Safety Service Provider and UWV

UWV

The Employee Insurance Agency UWV is an autonomous administrative authority and is commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The Dutch employee insurances are provided via laws such as the WW (Unemployment Insurance Act), the WIA (Work and Income according to Labour Capacity Act, WGA (Return to Work (Partially Disabled) Regulations), the WAZO (Work and Care Act) and the Sickness Benefits Act.

The Sick Leave Netherlands has to be reported to the UWV and forms need to be filled in during the process to comply with the required steps of the Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act.

How to Report Sick Leave in the Netherlands

Step 1: Notify the Employer

The company’s Sick Leave policy should include clear instructions for employees how to promptly inform and report illness, partial returns, and recovery to the employer. Often the reporting is done by phone before the before the scheduled working hours to either the line manager and/or HR.

Step 2: Follow Legal Sick Leave Procedures

Additionally, the company will inform the Occupational Health & Safety Service provider accordingly and the employer will follow the mandatory processes by Dutch law. This may involve submitting the sick leave through an online HR portal, keeping in contact with the line manager and case manager and/ or filling out a designated Dutch forms from UWV.

If the employee and employer stay in contact to report any changes in the condition and anticipated return-to-work date.

By following these steps and complying with company policies and legal requirements, employees can effectively report sick leave and facilitate a smooth process for both themselves and their employers.

Sick Leave for Burnout or Depression

If the employee experiences a burnout, the employee is entitled to take sick leave in the Netherlands. Similarly, if the employee is diagnosed with depression, they can report the employer of being ill, as depression is recognised as a legitimate illness that renders someone incapable of working.

Is a Sick Note Applicable in the Netherlands?

A sick leave Netherlands doctor’s certificate, sick note or medical certificate is not applicable in the Netherlands. The employee is obliged by law to inform the employer and call in sick.
During illness, it is allowed by the company to ask the following questions and details to the employee:

  • The expected duration of the absence from work.
  • The actions the employer can undertake to support the employee.
  • The (nursing) address and telephone number at which the employee can be reached.
  • Whether there is a ‘safety net situation’ [Vangnetsituatie]. Safety net situation means illness due to pregnancy, due to a structural-functional impairment (formerly occupational disabled), or due to donation of organs (not obliged to report).
  • Agree on meetings/ contact moments and activities to be carried out.
  • Whether the illness is the result of an accident for which a third party is liable.

Sick Days in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, there is not a set maximum limit on the number of sick days an employee can take per year. However, employees will receive sick pay for up to two years from their employer. Following this period, individuals are transferred to UWV for the sickness benefits.

Sickness Benefit / Sick Pay Continued Payment of Wages

The employer is obliged by Dutch employment law (Dutch Civil Code article 7:629) to continue the sickness benefit payment during the first year and second year of the Sick Leave of the employee. The sickness benefit payment by Dutch employment law is for two years a minimum of 70% of the employee’s wages.

However, it is common market practice for most companies to pay 100% of employee’s salary during the first year of illness. The percentage for the second year of illness may vary depending on the company and industry.

Reporting Illness When on Holiday

In case the employee gets ill during a holiday (in the Netherlands or abroad), the days of illness will be registered as Sick Leave and not as vacation/time-off. This will be processed upon the receipt of the medical statement from the local doctor/GP when abroad. The medical statement is not required when reporting ill during a holiday in the Netherlands. The days the employee was not ill during the holiday will be registered as vacation/time off.

Sickness-Related Employment Law Regulations in the Netherlands

In general, under Dutch employment law, there is a prohibition against termination of employment during an employee’s sickness [opzegverbod tijdens ziekte]. The exception to this rule is when the employee refuses to comply with the legal obligations in case of illness without good reasons (only in exceptional situations).

This is a very strict rule in the Netherlands for the reason of protecting the employee. After two years of illness, the employer is in principle allowed to terminate the employment contract of the employee.

Sick Leave Policy Netherlands

The law sets all sorts of obligations in the weeks of illness for both the employee and the employer to facilitate as much as possible the speedy recovery of the employee.

A well-crafted Sick Leave policy in the Netherlands is not just a legal necessity; it is a strategic guide to navigate the complexities of sick leave management in accordance with the Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act.

The comprehensive Absence Netherlands Policy in English or in Dutch outlines the company’s code for employees who are ill and are unable to attend work and includes:

  • The scope and explanatory of parties involved in the process.
  • How to report Sick Leave, return and partly return from Sick Leave.
  • The percentage of sick pay including the payroll process
  • Mandatory steps for employer and employee during Sick Leave.
  • Glossary of Terms.

Protect your company and ensure compliance with Dutch regulations by drafting a mandatory policy. Contact us today to speak with our experienced employment lawyer and safeguard your workplace environment.

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