Working conditions for employees

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 12 Sept 2023
4 min read
Nederlandse versie

Do you employ staff? You must provide good working conditions for all your employees. Your staff must work in a safe and healthy workplace. This is described in the Working Conditions Act (Arbeidsomstandighedenwet or Arbowet).

This also applies to foreign workers, temporary staff, and subcontractor employees. The Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie, NLA) will regularly check the working conditions in your company.

Health and safety policy

You must ensure good working conditions for all your employees. That is why you must draft a health and safety policy (working conditions policy). A health and safety policy contains everything you do to ensure the workplace is safe and healthy for everyone who works there. This means you must:

  • identify health and safety risks with an RI&E
  • record how you deal with employee illness (sick leave policy)
  • put emergency response measures (BHV) in place (and appoint emergency response workers)
  • appoint a health and safety officer
  • offer a periodical occupational health examination (PAGO)
  • have a plan for working with hazardous substances, radiation, and contamination

You should review your health and safety policy regularly and adjust it if necessary. There are sectors that have recorded their arrangements on health and safety in a working conditions catalogue (Arbocatalogus). It describes measures for safe and healthy work in special situations in a sector or industry. Arboportaal lists the working conditions catalogues (in Dutch) that are approved in the Netherlands. You can also develop a working conditions catalogue yourself (in Dutch).

Identifying health and safety risks

You have to list the potential risks in your workplace in a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E). You can use the NLA's online tool (in Dutch) to check how safe and healthy your workplace is for your employees. In the RI&E you also describe which measures you will take to avoid these risks.

Examples of risks are:

You must take measures to prevent physical and psychological strain.

Employee illness and sick leave policy

You have to draw up a plan for employees who get ill (in Dutch). This sick leave policy describes for example the procedures you and the employee must follow. The works council or staff representation must approve the policy. A certified health and safety expert (in Dutch) has to supervise the sick leave policy.

Put emergency response measures in place

You have to make arrangements for emergency response (bedrijfshulpverlening, BHV) in your business. This means you need to appoint 1 or more emergency response officers (BHV’ers) to interven in the event of a work-related accident or emergencies. How you set this up depends on the number of employees and the risks in your company.

Appoint health and safety officers

You have to appoint 1 or more health and safety officers in your company. A health and safety officer helps draw up and carry out the RI&E. They also advise the works council or staff representation on a good occupational health and safety policy.

Offer an occupational health examination

You must regularly offer your employees a periodical occupational health examination (periodiek arbeidsgezondheidskundig onderzoek, PAGO, in Dutch). A certified health and safety expert (company doctor) will check whether your employees have any health problems as a result of the work. Employees are not obliged to undergo the examination.

Working with hazardous substances

Do you produce hazardous substances in your company? Or do your employees work with products containing hazardouw substances (such as paint, glue, ink, or detergents)? Are there dangerous emissions in the workplace (such as diesel engine emissions, smoke, or quartz dust)? You have to protect your employees when they work with hazardous substances. You can also do the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) check to make sure a supplier of hazardous substances has complied with safety regulations.

Working from home and flexible working hours

You are also responsible for the working conditions if your employees do not have a fixed workplace or fixed working hours or if they work from home. This means you have to make sure the employee can work in safe and a healthy way.

This includes that:

  • You have to inform your employees about safe working conditions and help them to work safely
  • Your employees should have an ergonomic workstation (in Dutch).
  • Your employees have to comply with the rules concerning computer screen work (Working Conditions decree article 5.8 to 5.12).
  • You have to take psychosocial strain into acount (in Dutch).

You have to follow these rules wherever this can be reasonably expected from you. Your employee is also responsible for following these rules. You can read more about your duties around remote working. It is important to agree clearly with your employee on their working hours and tasks.

Health and safety policy check

Do you want to know if your health and safety policy is in order? Then use the Netherlands Labour Authority's Self-inspection 'Healthy and safe working' (in Dutch). This way you can check whether you know the occupational risks and take the right measures. You will also receive a list of occupational health and safety actions and improvements.

You can also find more details about how to provide a safe and healthy workplace in the Working Conditions Act and Working Conditions Decree (Arbowet and Arbobesluit).

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