Employer during the corona crisis: what you can and must do

This information is provided by

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW

The government has taken measures to protect you and your staff against the coronavirus. For example, working from home and proper ventilation. Make sure you observe the rules for protecting your employees' medical records. Did you know, for instance, that privacy legislation forbids you to register whether or not employees are vaccinated?

Corona measures from 28 November

From 28 November, a number of strict corona measures is being reinstated for at least 3 weeks for sectors such as hospitality and contact professions. See the article The coronavirus and your company. The government is working on financial measures to compensate those entrepreneurs who are most affected. These are expected to be announced soon.

Urge your employees to work from home

Ask your employees to work from home when possible. Only ask them to come to the workplace if it is necessary. Spread working hours, so your employees do not have to travel on public transport during rush hours. Make arrangements with your staff to ensure a safe workplace. Take care of proper ventilation. The rule to keep a safe distance of 1.5 metres in the workplace is reinstated and face masks must be worn inside when not seated. This reduces the risk of infection.

Tips for working from home

You are responsible for good working conditions. This is also true when your employees have to work from home. Think of lending an office chair or monitor from your office for the time being. Find a practical guide on working from home on Arboportaal, a website by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

Face mask obligation in several workplaces

The face mask requirement has been reinstated as of 28 November for all indoor public spaces when not seated. This applies whether a corona entry pass is required or not. The face mask will also be mandatory in educational institutions for all students from 6th grade in primary school when walking through the hallways.

Your employee falls ill

If your employee calls in sick, you cannot ask why. Not even to inquire if they have symptoms of the coronavirus. It is up to your employee to decide if they want to tell you. The company doctor or the health and safety agency are the only ones allowed to ask for medical data, if they have a valid reason to do so. The company doctor is not allowed to share this information with you.

Has coronavirus been officially diagnosed in one of your employees? And have you been notified of this, anonymously or otherwise? Then take immediate action (in Dutch). Co-workers of the infected employee may have to self-isolate.

Take the quarantine check on Government.nl.

One of your employee’s housemates falls ill

If a housemate of your employee is infected with coronavirus, this has consequences for your employee. If the housemate has to self-isolate, then your employee will have to self-quarantine as well.

Continue to pay wages during quarantine

Does your employee have to self-isolate? And is it impossible for them to work from home? You have to continue to pay their wages. You are not allowed to deduct leave hours, unless your employee and you agree to this.

Note: there are exceptions, see below (Your employee returns from a high-risk country).

No compulsory testing for your employees

You are not allowed to demand that your staff take a corona test. You can have your employees do a self-test on their own or under the supervision of a doctor or health professional. Even if they have no complaints. This allows you to open up the workplace in a safer way.

No compulsory vaccination for your employees

You may not make vaccination compulsory for your employees. Nor may you ask for a vaccination certificate, because of your employee's privacy.

Asking your employees if they are vaccinated

You are allowed to ask your employees whether or not they have been vaccinated. You must have a valid reason for asking. For example, if they work with vulnerable persons. You must also have a plan for how to deal with employees who are not vaccinated. Or with employees who refuse to answer the question.
Your employees do not have to reply to questions on their vaccination status. Nor may you register if an employee has been vaccinated, for privacy reasons. Read more about the rules on vaccination and the workplace on Rijksoverheid (in Dutch).

Refusing entry to the workplace

You are responsible for offering your employees a safe and healthy work environment. You may ask employees who have corona symptoms to work from home. You are also entitled to closed down the workplace, should this be necessary.

Even if you know that your employee has not been vaccinated, you may not prohibit them from working in the workplace.

Forcing your employees to take leave days

You cannot force your employees to take leave days, even if you have less work for them due to the corona crisis. You can discuss it with them. The employee decides if they want to take leave or not.

Withholding or delaying holiday allowance

You are not allowed to withhold your employees’ holiday allowance, or to delay paying holiday allowance. You and your employees can come to an arrangement together. If you do, you have to lay them down in writing, for instance as part of a plan to keep your company afloat.

Your employee returns from a high-risk country

You cannot forbid your employee to travel to, or take a holiday in, a country with an orange or red travel advice (in Dutch). Your employee does have to return in time.

Does your employee have to self-isolate? You must continue to pay wages, if they can work from home.

If they cannot work from home, you do not have to pay them wages for the days they miss. Point this out to your employees. Your employee can take extra days off to cover the quarantine period, if you agree to this.

Cancelling leave when a travel advice is adjusted

If your employee has to break off a holiday in a country for which the travel advice has shifted from yellow to orange or red, and then has to self-isolate, they cannot simply decide to cancel their leave days. You have to give permission for this; you can also demand that they do take the allotted leave – for instance, if they cannot work from home.

Form for reporting an unsafe workplace or fraud

The Inspectorate SZW website offers a corona complaints form in several languages (English, Polish, German, Dutch, and Romanian) that individuals and businesses can use to report a breach or corona safety rules in the workplace, or to report suspected fraud involving corona financial schemes.

NOW scheme for wage costs ended

On 1 October 2021, the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Continued Employment NOW ended. NOW was a scheme to get an advance to compensate a large percentage of your total wage sum. It allowed you to continue paying your employees, both permanent and flex or fixed-term ones. The NOW will be extended due to recently instated corona measures. More information on this will follow on this page.

Note: you may have to repay

Did you make use of the NOW scheme, and was your turnover higher than estimated, or have your wage costs gone down? You may have to repay (part of) the received money.
Read more about repaying corona support.

Temporary change of work

You are allowed to ask your employees to do different work for a time. You and the employees involved must be in agreement about this.

Lending personnel

Do you have less work for your employees? You can use the exchange programme NLWerktDoor! (The Netherlands keeps on working) to lend employees to businesses that are looking for staff. Logistics or care companies, for example.

The platform acts as matchmaker for unemployed persons and businesses with job vacancies. You can also lend employees to companies that can use extra hands.

Not renewing your employee’s contract

You may not want to, or be able to, renew an employee’s contract. For instance, because it is a fixed-term contract, or your employee has been off sick for a long time. You do not have to renew a fixed-term contract, regardless of whether the employee in question is off sick or not. A fixed-term contract ends on the date stated in the contract. If the contract is a permanent one, it depends on the circumstances and duration of the contract whether or not you can dismiss your employee. Is your employee ill? Check carefully whether or not you are allowed to dismiss them.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

This information is provided by

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW