Sick pay in the Netherlands is regulated strictly and certain procedures must be followed by employer and employee alike. Whilst under employment law in the Netherlands the obligations of the employee and employer are usually straight forward in terms of the company’s policy, in cases of long term absence, specific rules can apply.
When an employee is sick in the Netherlands, both the employee and the employer should cooperate in ensuring legal obligations are met, and that preparation is made for the employee’s eventual return to work.
The employer should register the employee’s sickness with the Employee Insurance Agency (in Dutch: UWV). The employee should receive notification of this and the amount they’re entitled to within four days.
Dutch employment law provides employees with a safeguard against termination during sick leave (in Dutch opzegverbod tijdens ziekte). If the employee is fit to return to work in some capacity, then the employer must check to see if they have a position suitable in the company. If none are available, then the employer should do all in their power to find a suitable external placement for the employee.
Employees working in the Netherlands who fall sick must report their absence to their employer to receive their sick pay entitlement. Generally, most companies have developed their policy which should be followed by the employee in case of an illness.
When your employer has notified the UWV of the illness of the employee, they will contact the employee and arrange a doctor’s appointment to monitor the progression of the sickness. These meetings should occur throughout the illness and reports shall be made on the employee's continued inability to work.
The amount of sick pay and from whom the employee will receive it, is dependent on the type of employment agreement the employee holds under Dutch employment law. Thus, sick pay can either be paid by the employer or the UWV.
Under Dutch employment law, an employee is entitled to sick pay for the first two years of illness which prevents them from working. This sick pay must be, at a minimum, 70% of the employee’s current wages. However, if this 70% falls below the statutory minimum wage, then the sick pay entitlement will rise until this requirement is met. If an employee falls sick due to complications in their pregnancy, he (or she) will be entitled to 100% of his (or her) salary whilst on sick leave.
The sick wage an employee receives can be subject to deductions in light of any employee benefits currently being received by the employee in question.
It is possible that the employment agreement or a collective labours agreement contains further rights and details for sick pay, providing the statutory minimum is met. Thus, it is common for employers in the Netherlands to pay more to their employees than the statutory minimum. An employment agreement may provide for waiting days during an employee’s absence from work. The waiting days are the first two days the employee is off work for sickness, and in this period, there is no obligation to pay wages. However, this must have been agreed upon between the parties in writing through the employment agreement to be legally valid.
If the employee is still suffering an illness after these two years, the sick pay entitlement will cease. However, if the UWV holds the view that the employer has not acted per their obligations or providing sufficient assistance to the employee during their sickness period, then an extension to these two years may be imposed (in Dutch this is called: loonsanctie).
If an employee falls sick during your holiday, there is a possibility for the period in which the employee is sick to be logged as sick leave instead of holiday leave. This will be paid, and the employee's holiday entitlement will be restored for use at a later date. If the employee returns to work on a partial basis, then the sick pay entitlement may be reduced in line with the number of hours the employee attends work.
The employee loses his entitlement to wages in the event it is discovered the illness was deliberately caused by the employee. The employee will also lose this right if he does not cooperate with the employer on the procedures required.
As an experienced employment lawyer in the Netherlands, I am able to advise clients on all aspects sick pay in the Netherlands. I would be happy to discuss further details regarding this.