Occupational health and safety rules for specific employees

Published by:
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW

In certain cases, special work conditions apply to your employees. For example, for sick, pregnant and older workers or temporary workers.

Employees who fall ill

Employees who fall ill usually return to work quickly. But what if the sick leave lasts much longer than expected? Then you will have to deal with the Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act (Wet verbetering poortwachter, WvP. in Dutch). Long-term sickness has financial consequences for both of you.

After 2 years of illness, the Work and Income according to Labour Capacity Act (Wet werk en inkomen naar arbeidsvermogen, WIA) usually covers your employee. Your employee will receive a much lower income. And you might remain responsible for supplementing that income for another 10 years. Together with your employee, you should do as much as possible to prevent this.

What is the Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act

The Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act (Wet verbetering poortwachter, Wvp) states what you and your employee must do to get your employee back to work as quickly as possible. This is called reintegration and you use the 'procedure for the first and second year of illness' (in Dutch). Together, you have to see if your employee can work in your company again (first track). If this does not work out, you must look for work at another company together (second track).

Pregnant employees and women who are breastfeeding

Do you have a pregnant employee? Then you must ensure that there is no danger in the workplace to her and the unborn child. Your employee must be able to work safely and healthily at all stages of pregnancy. What does that mean?

  • There must be no risk of impairing the woman's fertility.
  • The pregnancy must not be at risk.
  • The baby must not be at risk during pregnancy.

Hazardous substances and physical work

Does your pregnant employee work with hazardous substances? Or does your employee have to lift and carry? Then you need to adjust the work. There are legal obligations (in Dutch) for this. Pregnant and breastfeeding workers are not allowed to:

  • be exposed to lead and lead compounds
  • be exposed to toxoplasma and rubella (the rubella virus)
  • work under overpressure such as diving and caisson work (working in a high-pressure room)
  • work in underground extractive industries, such as mines.

Risks mandatory in RI&E

You are obliged to list occupational risks in your risk inventory & evaluation (RI&E). In the action plan, you set out the additional measures needed to control risks. You must give your pregnant employee information about the risks well on time.

Information obligation when pregnant

After your employee has told you they are pregnant, you must give her information within 2 weeks about:

  • the possible dangers of work for her and the unborn child
  • what you can do together to prevent these dangers
  • the right to adjust working and rest times when pregnant (and afterwards). And the right to other (safe) work
  • the availability of a specific space on the premises for during pregnancy or breastfeeding

Is your employee breastfeeding? If so, you must provide an area that can be closed where she can breastfeed. Or where your employee can pump.

Information on pregnancy rights and obligations

Clear information about pregnancy and work reduces absenteeism. Read more about the rights and obligations (in Dutch) of your employees who are pregnant or have just had a child. The toolkit Childwish, pregnancy and work (in Dutch) will help you inform employees.

Older employees

It goes for all employees that you must take into account what they are capable of. This is even more important for the older employee (in Dutch). You should pay extra attention if your older employee has to deal with:

  • high time pressure
  • heavy physical load
  • rapidly developing technology
  • irregular working hours and shifts

If the work threatens to become too hard, the content of the work or the working environment should be examined to see if it can be adapted. You then must find alternative tasks and positions in time. You also need to prepare the older employee for the possibility of other work.

Temporary workers

If you hire temporary workers, the main responsibility (in Dutch) lies with you. So, you must ensure a safe workplace and good working conditions. For example, you must send (part of) the RI&E to the temporary employment agency in advance. The temporary employment agency is also responsible for the health and safety of your temporary worker and must inform the temporary worker of any possible risks in the workplace.

Employees with a disability

Do you want to retain or employ an employee with a disability or partial incapacity for work? For example, by finding suitable work or by adjusting the workplace. The government encourages this and UWV offers various allowances (in Dutch) to employ a disabled person.

For example, you can get allowances for facilities that an employee cannot bring along himself. Such as an adapted toilet, a stair lift or an adapted workplace. The costs you incur must be related to:

  • a major workplace adaptation
  • the purchase of important aids
  • a major adaptation and refurbishment of your business

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW