The Corona-virus and Dutch employment law

26 March 2020

The 5 most common questions concerning employees:

1. Is it possible to request work time reduction for my employees or another measure to support my company during the measures of the Dutch government during the Corona-virus outbreak?

Please note it is no longer possible to ask for work time reduction, however when companies are faced with a 20% reduction in revenue or more, can request a prorated contribution from the government for wage payments (with a 100% reduction in revenue 90% reimbursement can be claimed, with a 50% reduction in revenue a 45% reimbursement can be claimed). We have published an article with the currently known details of this so called NOW-regulation here.

2. My employee is following the governments instructions and is staying home with mild symptoms that could indicate Corona (flu, a cough, headache, running nose, sneezing), is the employee entitled to continued wage payments?

  • when the employee can work from home (and does so), there is an entitlement to the normal wages to be paid out; 

  • if your employee can not work from home, but is (according to the governments instructions) staying home with these symptoms, and has reported ill the employee is entitled to sickness benefits. The statutory entitlement consists of 70% of the last earned wage, with a maximum of 70% of the maximum daily wage, in the employment agreement or a possible collective labour agreement there could be additional entitlements. If the employee on the other hand has not reported ill, but states that he can and is willing to work (even though he has mild symptoms), discussion is possible on whether the employee should be entitled to full payment or 70%.
    In such instances the employer may ask the Company Doctor (Arbodokter) to confirm if the employee is incapacitated for work (giving an entitlement to 70% of the wages), or if the employee should not be deemed incapacitated for work. If the employee is not incapacitated for work, and it is the decision of employer not to have the employee perform work (in line with the government instructions and necessary to protect his other employees), the employee would in principle be entitled to 100% of the wages.

3. Is there an entitlement to continued wages If an employee who does not have any symptoms (nor is otherwise incapacitated for work) but refuses to come to work out of fear and stays at home?

According to the governments instructions, employees who can work at home should work at home. If the employee works from home, there is an entitlement to his normal continued wages. If it concerns work which can not be performed from home, the employee in principle has an obligation based on his employment agreement to come to work and if the employee refuses such, there is no entitlement to paid wages. This can be different if the employer is not providing the employee with a safe working environment. Whether the employer has done sufficiently to safeguard a safe working environment should be assessed on a case by case basis.

4. My employee has young kids whose daycare was cancelled. As a result the employee is not able to perform work, is the employee entitled to continued wage payments?

Dutch laws contain the possibility to take (paid) emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof) of a couple of hours or days, where it is necessary for the employee to make arrangements. However, this is only applicable where immediate action by the employee is necessary (meaning there are no other options to resolve the lack of day care) and for a short term (taking the necessary temporary measures). For the period after emergency leave, the employee can use short term care leave (kortdurend zorgverlof) to take care of his or her children in case the children are ill (paid against 70% of the wage, maximized to 70% of the daily maximum wage), for a duration of 2 times the weekly worked hours. In the employment agreement or collective labour agreement, additional arrangements can be agreed upon. If the children are not ill, in principle the employee would have to take (unpaid) leave or vacation days to take care of their children, however, whether such is reasonable should be assessed taking into account the specific circumstances of the case;

5. As a result of the Corona-virus, our company has to work in shifts. Can I request from my employees that they cooperate with this and work on different times then they would normally work?

If this is necessary as a result of the governments instructions for the Corona-virus, the employer may request the employees to work on different times than originally agreed upon. These different working times can be agreed upon, and otherwise imposed. However, when imposing these measures the employer should still take into account the (personal) circumstances of the employee and come to a reasonable instruction.

Besides these questions, we get many other queries (concerning the cancellation of earlier vacation requests, requesting an employee to step in and perform different work, what kind of wages (and travel reimbursements) the employee is entitled to when working from home, what measures an employer is obliged to take on the workfloor, etc. ).

If your questions has not been sufficiently addressed in the aforementioned Q and A, please feel free to contact us at: / .