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Company doctor or health and safety service

This information is provided by Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW

As an employer, you are responsible for a healthy employment policy. For example, your policy on absenteeism and working conditions. You are required to get support from an expert on this. You can arrange this by joining a health and safety service (arbodienst), or independently hiring experts such as a company doctor (bedrijfsarts).

Safety net scheme and customised scheme

Under the safety net scheme (vangnetregeling), you arrange health and safety matters through a certified health and safety service (arbodienst). Insurers sometimes require you to specifically join a health and safety service.

With the customised scheme (maatwerkregeling), you choose the experts you need yourself. You need the consent of the participation council for this. In that case, at least 1 company doctor must be available for absenteeism counselling, occupational health examination (Periodiek Arbeidsgezondheidskundig Onderzoek, PAGO), appointment examinations, and (open) consultation hours.

The company doctor:

  • you hire yourself or is employed by a health and safety service;
  • is an occupational health specialist;
  • may refer your employee to a specialist in curative care;
  • may request medical information about your employee. Your employee must give permission first;
  • must re-register every 5 years and must meet various requirements;
  • must undergo continuous training and is regularly checked;
  • must assess your employee's fitness for work or incapacity for work;
  • must be registered in the BIG register and in a specialist register;
  • advises on prevention;
  • may assess a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E);
  • may periodically examine employees (PAGO);
  • may hold a health and safety consultation hour;
  • may do a pre-appointment examination;
  • reports occupational diseases to the Netherlands Center for Occupational Diseases;
  • may determine if an employee is no longer able to work due to illness and assess what your employee can still do;
  • discusses illness with your employee within 6 weeks of it being reported, draws up a problem analysis, advises you on reintegration and resumption of work, and supervises the employee's reintegration.

The health and safety service

If you join a certified health and safety service (in Dutch), you make use of a safety net scheme. The health and safety service can deploy various, certified experts who support you in the tasks according to the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet). For example, advising on absenteeism guidance for your employees, the periodic occupational health examination (PAGO) for employees, or performing an assessment of the risk evaluation & inventory (RI&E). The 4 core experts are the company doctor, the occupational hygienist, the safety expert, and the labour and organisation expert.

If you do not join a health and safety service, you can also hire the services of a certified expert. They can advise you on the themes in which they specialise or assess an RI&E. You may also train and deploy your employees as certified occupational hygienists, safety experts, or occupational and organisational experts. This is only possible if you have reached a written agreement with the trade union, the works council, or the staff representation.

Right of consent for employees

Employees have the right of consent via the works council or employee representation in the choice of health and safety service and the contents of the contract. They must also agree to the use of the so-called customised scheme (maatwerkregeling).

Safety net scheme and the basic contract

Every employer must have a basic contract and is responsible for the contents. This also applies with the safety net scheme. The Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie, NLA) can enforce action in the absence of (parts of) a basic contract.

The health and safety doctor (arboarts)

Doctors who are not (yet) trained as a company doctor may also work within a health and safety service. They then work under the supervision of a company doctor. A health and safety doctor may only refer an employee after approval by a company doctor. They are not allowed to judge your employee's fitness for work or incapacity

This information is provided by

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW
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