Working in the Netherlands

Working in the Netherlands

Managing chronically ill employees in the Netherlands

According to a research by the Dutch platform for chronically ill employees, “fit for work”, one out of three employees in the Netherlands has a chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes, depression or heart conditions. One out of seven Dutch employees does not inform their employer about a chronic illness because of fear that they will lose their job or that it may have a negative effect on their career.

Ill employees are one of the most difficult dilemmas for a manager in the Netherlands — how to balance their compassion for a chronically ill employee with the legitimate business concerns.

What are the issues when an employee is chronically ill?

  • Increased tardiness and fatigue, for example with MS.
  • Increased absenteeism.
  • Decreased concentration, for example, with migraines.
  • Loss of productivity, for example, because the person is not present often enough to get the job done, or there is an increased error rate.
  • Loss of motor coordination and/or control of bodily function.

What are the rights of an employee that work less or even no hours due to sickness?

If the employee earns less than before the sickness, there are two options for the employee:

  • Income protection for individuals registered as fully and permanently incapacitated (IVA). The IVA is based on a payment of 75% of the full daily wage,
  • The re-employment of partially incapacitated individuals (WGA).  These employees receive 70% of the daily wage.

A fundamental distinction has been made between employees who after two years (of sickness benefits) are both fully and permanently incapacitated (IVA sub-scheme) and those who are partially or temporarily incapacitated (WGA sub-scheme). Persons who are fully incapacitated but for whom this condition may not be permanent are included in the WGA scheme. If after a certain period the employee is still found to be totally incapacitated, they can be transferred to the IVA scheme. Until then, they will be paid a full WGA benefit of 70% of their daily wage. Their wage-related the period lasts as long as long as their full incapacitation lasts. Paying benefit to such individuals – who are fully though not necessarily permanently incapacitated – ensures that they are given every opportunity to recover and return to work while at the same time having the security of incapacity benefit.

What is the “WIA”?

The Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Bill (WIA) is the Dutch disability benefit scheme. The WIA has two aims: to promote reintegration and to protect the incomes of employees who are restricted in the work they can do due to illness or incapacity. The primary aim is to promote “return to work”, i.e. to increase the long-term reintegration of employees with (temporary) health-related work restrictions.

Transition allowance

Where the employment relationship is ended by the initiative of the employer the employee is entitled to a transition allowance (transitievergoeding).

The transition allowance has two purposes:

  • To compensate the employee for the termination of the employment.
  • To assist the employee in finding a new employment opportunity.

There is one exception to this rule when there is “Equivalent provision” in the collective labour agreement (CAO) of the employer.

Eva Knipschild explains in her labour law blog that it is difficult to compare the transition allowance with the equivalent provision benefit.  The transition allowance is stipulated by law but the equivalent provision can consist out of a combination of money and other benefits. According to Knipchild Dutch courts disagree if the comparison must only include direct befits or may it also include potential benefits such as pension provisions. Where the Dutch courts are in agreement is that the value of the equivalent provision must be equal to the value of the prescribed transition allowance.



Andre Beukes LLM

Andre Beukes LLM

André Beukes is an EU Management Consultant to international companies doing business in Europe. He provides clients with practical business support that makes a real difference doing business in the EU. “Put simply, I am here to help you meet your challenges. I believe in the importance of doing things correctly, meaning risks are reduced and problems are avoided.”

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