During sickness, the employee is entitled to continued salary payment during two years. If an employee has been ill for a prolonged period of time, both the employer and employee must make an effort to reintegrate the employee back to work.
Salary payment during sickness
During the first two years of employee sickness, employers need to continue paying a certain percentage of the employee’s salary. According to the Dutch Civil Code the employer should pay at least 70% of the employee’s regular salary¹. However, if the regular salary exceeds the statutory ‘maximum daily wage²’ then 70% of the maximum daily wage would suffice as sick pay.
Contractual arrangements are often more generous for the employee, stipulating that the employer pays, for example, 100% or 90% of the regular salary during the first year of illness and 70% during the second year of illness. For higher salaries, the difference between the statutory minimum sick pay and the contractual sick pay can be substantial.
During the incapacity for work and reintegration, the employer must engage a company doctor, usually through an occupational health and safety service. The company doctor advises the employer regarding the employee’s capabilities and the reintegration. The company doctor is not allowed to share with the employer any medical information, such as the diagnosis and treatment of the employee’s sickness.
Once the employee has been sick for over two years, the UWV will investigate whether the employer has made sufficient efforts to reintegrate the employee back to work. If the UWV is of the opinion that the employer has not complied with its reintegration obligations, the UWV may impose a wage sanction on the employer. This means that the employer must continue paying the employee’s salary up to one additional year. Once the employer has met the reintegration requirements during this third year of sickness, he may request the UWV to shorten the wage sanction. During the third year of sickness the employee is entitled to 70% of his last earned salary, as far as this is not higher than the maximum daily wage, unless parties have made other arrangements regarding salary payment during the third year of sickness.
Step-by-step guide for employee sickness
Day 1: Reporting sick
The employee reports in sick. The employer must notify the company doctor of the employee’s sickness as soon as possible.
Week 6: Problem Analysis
The company doctor will draw up a problem analysis. This should happen in the sixth week of sickness at the latest. The problem analysis includes the employee’s health limitations and capabilities as well as the reintegration possibilities.
Week 8: Plan of Action
The employer and employee need to draw up a plan of action at the latest in the eighth week of sickness. This includes the arrangements the employer and employee have made about the reintegration process.
Week 42: 42nd week report
If the employee has been sick for more than 42 weeks, the employer must report the employee sickness to the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency), ultimately on the first working day following the 42nd week of the employee’s sickness.
Week 52: First-year Evaluation
By the end of the first year of sickness, the employer and employee draw up a first-year evaluation. The reintegration up to that moment in time will be discussed and arrangements for the coming year need to be made.
If the employee is unable to return to his/her own job position or another suitable position within the company, parties must start a so-called “second track reintegration” (reintegration outside the employer’s company) within six weeks after the first-year evaluation.
Week 88: Application for long-term sickness benefits (WIA benefits)
In the 88th week of sickness, the employee will receive a letter from the UWV concerning the application for WIA benefits from the UWV. This letter informs the employee of the last day on which he/she can apply for the WIA benefits (ultimately in the 93rd week of sickness). The employer receives a copy of this letter from the UWV.
Week 91: Final Evaluation Report
No later than in the 91st week of sickness, the employer and employee draw up the final evaluation report. This report discusses the status of the reintegration process.
Week 93: Submission reintegration report
Ultimately in the 93rd week of sickness, the employee must submit a copy of the reintegration report to the UWV. The employee may also request the employer to submit a copy on the employee’s behalf. The reintegration report includes (1) the problem analysis, (2) the plan of action, (3) the first-year evaluation, (4) the company doctor’s advice, and (5) the final evaluation. In addition, the employee must provide the UWV with information concerning his/her health situation. On the basis of the final evaluation, the UWV will examine whether the employer complied with the reintegration obligations.
Contacting our employment lawyers
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¹ The statutory minimum wages are the absolute minimum sick pay – also if 70% of the regular salary would indicate an amount lower than the applicable minimum wage. The statutory minimum wage is annually determined by the government. For the up-to-date statutory minimum wage, please refer to: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/minimumloon/bedragen-minimumloon.
² The maximum daily wage is annually determined by the government. For the up-to-date statutory maximum daily wage, please refer to: https://www.uwv.nl/particulieren/bedragen/detail/maximumdagloon.