When an employee falls ill, he or she is entitled to continued payment of wages. Since the introduction of the Eligibility for Permanent Invalidity Benefit (Restrictions) Act (‘Wet Verbetering Poortwachter’), the employer is required to make every effort to ensure that the sick employee can return to work as soon as possible. This in called ‘reintegration’ in the Netherlands. For this to happen, not only the employer, but also the employee has certain obligations as part of the reintegration process. If the employer and/or employee do not comply with these obligations, sanctions may be imposed.

Reintegration/absence records/Eligibility for Permanent Invalidity Benefit (Restrictions) Act

From the moment the employee reports sick, both the employer and the employee have obligations to allow the employee to recover and return to work. As part of this, an action plan will have to be drawn up for the rehabilitation (reintegration). In this action plan, the arrangements are laid down about how the employee can be helped to return to work. The initiative for reintegration lies with the employer. There are a number of routes that can be followed during the reintegration:

Route 1. Return to the same position;
Route 2. Return to work with accommodations;
Route 3. Return to work (with accommodations) in a different position;

The Eligibility for Permanent Invalidity Benefit (Restrictions) Act details the reintegration obligations the employer and employee must comply with during the first 104 weeks. Based on this law, an employer must keep a sick leave record in case of long-term sickness absence of the employee. After every sick leave conversation that takes place between employer and employee, a short report must be drawn up with the main arrangements in it, this will have to be included in the sick leave record. A copy of this report must also be sent to the employee, to give him or her the opportunity to agree to the report or express his or her perception of the conversation if he or she disagrees with it.

The employee needs this record for his application for an invalidity benefit under the Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act (WIA) after 21 months of illness. The UWV will then assess whether the employer and employee have made sufficient efforts to meet the reintegration obligations. If the employer has not sufficiently met these obligations, a wage penalty may be imposed.

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Wage penalty UWV

If the employer fails to comply with the reintegration obligations, a wage penalty may be imposed. This wage penalty may entail an extension of the obligation to continue to pay wages for up to one year. It is therefore important to be well-informed of the reintegration obligations that must be met and the consequences of not meeting these obligations.

Prohibition on termination during sickness

Under Dutch law, an employer is not allowed to terminate the employment contract of a sick employee.
The prohibition on termination does not apply if the employee agrees to the termination in writing, if the termination takes place during the employee’s probationary period or due to an urgent reason (summary dismissal). Also, a prohibition on termination during sickness does not apply if the request to terminate the employment contract had already been received by the UWV before the employee fell ill.


Employees sometimes call in sick due to a serious labour dispute. In such cases, a company doctor will often recommend mediation to solve the labour dispute. Mediation can then be used to help the parties reach an agreement. An independent third party will try to find a solution to the dispute the parties have become involved in. By encouraging a dialogue between the employer and employee with a mediator present, an attempt can be made to find a solution to the labour dispute.

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