If you own a company in the Netherlands and one of your employees becomes ill, you are required to pay at least 70% of their last earned wages. You are obliged to do this for a maximum period of two years. You are also obliged to make efforts for your employee to go back to work (reintegration).
How much to pay
You should pay:
- 70% of the employee's normal wages during the first year of illness. If this amounts to less than the minimum wage, you should supplement it up to the minimum wage amount
- 70% of the employee's normal wages during the second year of illness. You do not need to supplement if the amount is less than the minimum wage
If your employee is off sick because of organ donation, pregnancy or giving birth, you need to pay 100% of their normal wages.
Overtime and supplements
You also have to pay the same percentage (either 70 or 100) of all wage components your employee would have received in normal circumstances (i.e. not ill). For instance overtime, personal allowances and other benefits.
Whom to pay
This obligation applies to all your employees, such as:
- employees on a permanent contract
- employees on a fixed-term contract
- on-call employees (both those on fixed-hours and zero-hours contracts)
Do you employ on-call workers? If they get ill during the time they are contracted to work for you, you need to pay at least 70% of their wages. You should supplement this pay to at least the minimum wage. This applies to employees on fixed-hours and zero-hours contracts
End of contract
Does your employee's contract come to an end while they are ill? You do not need to pay them after their contract ends. They can apply for sickness benefits (Ziektewetuitkering).
If your employee is older and entitled to old age pension (AOW), and becomes ill, you must continue to pay at least 70% of their normal wages. If that amount is lower than the minimum wage, you need to supplement it. You must continue to pay their wages for 6 weeks.
If you have a disabled employee who becomes ill, you can apply for a sickness benefit at the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV). This regulation is called the no-risk policy (no-riskpolis, in Dutch). In this case you will continue to pay your employee's salary and offset the benefit against this. You should mention this no-risk policy applies at the time you report your employee’s illness.
Returning to work
You must consult with the employee about their returning to work (reintegration obligation). Your employee has to cooperate in efforts to go back to work. Within the two-year period, you have the option of temporarily discontinuing payment of wages if they do not cooperate sufficiently. Insufficient cooperation can even serve as grounds for dismissal.
Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act (WIA)
After two years, the employee may be eligible for a benefit pursuant to the Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act (Wet werk en inkomen naar arbeidsvermogen, WIA, in Dutch). You can then dissolve the employment contract. The employee can apply for a WIA benefit after one and half years. If it is absolutely evident that your employee cannot get back to work within this period, they can, after consulting you and your company doctor, apply for a WIA benefit earlier (in Dutch). You may then deduct the benefit from their wages. You are no longer responsible for reintegration.
UWV assesses whether you and your employee have done enough to avoid a benefits claim. If not, they may reclaim the benefit from you.