If your employee calls in sick, they do not have to tell you exactly what is wrong. You must continue paying your sick employee’s wages and you cannot simply dismiss sick staff. You must also help your employee return to work. These obligations apply to all your employees, regardless of whether their contracts are permanent, temporary, or on-call agreements.
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Do not ask your employees why they feel sick
Your employee does not have go into medical details with you. For reasons of privacy (in Dutch), you are not allowed to ask. You do have to ask your employee when they think they will be coming back to work. Some kind of work may well be possible during the period of sickness.
Report sick leave and recovery to the company doctor or health and safety agency
If your employee is calls in sick, report sick leave and recovery to your company doctor or health and safety agency (arbodienst). You must do this within 4 working days. If your employee is recovered by then, report this as well. If your employee is a temporary agency worker or payroller, you don’t have to do anything.
Check whether you also have to report sick leave to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV)
Sometimes you will have to register your employee as sick with the UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen). You must do so if:
- your employee is sick for 42 weeks;
- the employment contract expires during the period of sickness. If so, register your employee as sick with the UWV on the last working day;
- your employee is entitled to benefit under the Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet).This is also the case if you are a self-insurer under the Sickness Benefits Act. You must register the employee as sick with the UWV within 4 working days. Recovery must be reported within 2 working days. Both can be done using the online sickness notification (Verzuimmelder, in Dutch).
Continue paying salary during the period of sickness
You must pay your sick employee at least 70% of their previous salary and holiday allowance. If the employment contract or Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) prescribes a higher percentage, you must comply with this. The maximum duration of continued payment is 104 weeks. If your employee’s contract finishes during that period, register your employee as sick with the UWV on their last working day. Your obligation to continue payment of salary ceases from then on.
Sickness does not lead to loss of holiday
If your employee becomes ill while on holiday, they do not lose their leave hours. However, they must report sick during the holiday.
Do not dismiss a sick employee
You can only dismiss a sick employee in certain situations, namely:
- during the trial period;
- in the event of instant dismissal;
- in the event of bankruptcy;
- if your business ceases to exist;
- after 2 years of sickness, unless the UWV has imposed a wages penalty on you;
- if your employee falls sick during the UWV dismissal procedure;
- if your employee falls sick after you have filed a dismissal application at the sub-district court; sickness must not be the reason for such a dismissal application.
Help your employee return to work
The Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit Restrictions Act (in Dutch, Wet verbetering poortwachter, Wvp) requires you and your employee to find ways together on how to get them back to work as soon as possible. This is formally known as ‘reintegration’. For example, you can adjust the workplace or provide flexible working hours.
Apply for benefit under the WIA if going back to work is not possible
If your employee is sick for a long time with no possibility of returning to work, then they can apply for a benefit under the Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act (WIA, Wet werk en inkomen naar arbeidsvermogen) after 1.5 year. If the UWV rules that you have done enough in support of their return to work, you can stop paying wages after 2 years.
You may also dismiss your long-term employee after 2 years with the permission of UWV. You then pay transition payment to your employee. You may be able to apply for compensation (in Dutch) from the UWV for transition payment.