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The Corona virus and the labour law consequences for your employees

The Corona virus and the labour law consequences for your employees

The Corona virus is a hot topic. Almost daily, the National Institute for Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM) has introduced new measures that have major consequences for everyone working in the Netherlands, as well as for those in other countries. For example, when is an employee entitled to salary? What if an employee has a child who has to stay home due to the schools being closed? And what should you do if you have a sick on-call worker? We have listed these and other questions and answers as they pertain to Dutch labour law.

Please note: this page has been updated at 09:00 hours on 19 March. Naturally, both the facts and specific situation play major roles where they concern the formulation of correct answers to your questions. If you would like to be certain which rules apply to you or what you should do in a specific situation within your organisation, please get in touch with us using the contact details at the bottom of this page. We are pleased to help you!

Are employees now allowed to refuse to appear at work? 

In case of a real danger, employees may only interrupt their work for the duration of the danger; for example, if there is a colleague with flu symptoms in the workplace, or if you as an employer implement precautionary measures that are clearly insufficient for other reasons. Employees do have to report that they are refusing to appear at work. Other reasons, such as merely being fearful of contracting the virus, do not constitute grounds for refusing to appear at work. 

The Netherlands is not on lock down, which means that people are still allowed to go outside. An appeal was made to work from home as much as possible, but there is no prohibition on going to the workplace. This means that, pursuant to their employment contract, an employee is obliged to go to work in principle. 

Am I allowed to prohibit employees from going on holiday to areas infected with the Corona virus? 

Only at the moment the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises people not to travel to an infected area, are you allowed to demand that the employee not make the trip in his/her private capacity to that infected area. Although you are not allowed to withdraw an approved holiday request just like that, you are allowed to do so if it pertains to an important business interest. If this is the case, you may deny business travel to prevent the employee from becoming infected at that destination, which would prevent them from spreading the Corona virus throughout the company upon their return. 

Am I allowed to have my employees tested medically for the Corona virus? 

In principle, you are not allowed to process specific medical data, although you may need to insist on it in exceptional cases. An exceptional case may exist if the processing of the data is necessary to counter the further spread of the Corona virus; for example, in case of a real imminent threat of an outbreak of the virus in the workplace. A real risk does not yet exist in the event that an employee has visited a high-risk area but does not yet show any symptoms. The employee cannot be obliged to have himself/herself tested medically. However, you can recommend that the employee visit the general practitioner. This may be overturned if the Corona virus spreads further and the government issues corresponding advice.

Is an employee who is told to stay at home preventatively (self-quarantine) entitled to salary?

Yes, if you as employer request or oblige an employee to stay at home preventatively, the employee is entitled to continued payment of their salary. As an employer, you are obliged to provide a safe workplace for all. 

You as the employer have the right to oblige employees to work from home if there is a well-founded fear that an employee has been or could be infected. In any case, whether an employee is allowed and able to work from home depends on multiple factors.

Is a healthy employee allowed to decide for himself to stay home preventatively? 

No, unless there is a well-founded fear of infection at work. Employees who stay at home without good reason are not entitled to salary.

As an employer, however, you are obliged to provide a safe workplace. You as the employer have the right to oblige employees to work from home if there is a well-founded fear that an employee has been infected. In any case, whether an employee is allowed and able to work from home depends on multiple factors.

Is an employee who is quarantined but not sick entitled to their salary?

Yes, employees who are quarantined and are able to work from home are entitled to salary.

What about employees who are ill?

The Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act (Dutch: Wet poortwachter) applies if you have a sick employee; action must be taken in accordance with your organisation’s absenteeism protocol. This also means that the salary must continue to be paid in accordance with the employment contract/CLA/the law, subject to a minimum of 70%.

Are employees allowed to stay home to care for their children?

Currently, schools are closed until 6 April. If the school attended by an employee’s child decides to close after that date and the child needs to be care for, your employee will be entitled to salary for a short period of time to arrange for childcare (emergency leave or short-term leave). This concerns a period to be calculated reasonably and therefore falls under the category of acute private problems. In this case, therefore, only for the time required to arrange for the care for the children.

What about on-call workers who are ill?

An on-call request that has been handled must be paid. Payment of salary does not apply if no call was made. In that instance, your on-call worker is not entitled to salary.

What about temporary workers who are ill?

A temporary employee might not be entitled to a salary payment if they hold an agency work employment contract with a temporary employment clause. However, this depends specifically on the agreements made between the temporary employment agency, the temporary worker and yourself.

What if I do not have enough work available to keep my employee busy as a result of the Corona virus?

The government has had to implement drastic measures in connection with the outbreak of the COVID-19 Corona virus. Companies have closed in several sectors, which means that some work is no longer being carried out. Measures have been implemented, not just in the Netherlands but also abroad, which have an impact on business activities and employment in the Netherlands. You have had until 17 March to apply for reduced-time work on behalf of your employees due to the reduction in work. That reduced-time work scheme did not account for the unprecedented reduction in work which has confronted Dutch companies and organisations as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 Corona virus. Therefore, on 17 March 2020, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment has decided to withdraw the reduced-time working scheme with immediate effect, and to no longer grant any exemptions. The government has introduced the Employment Bridging Emergency Fund (Dutch: NOW) to replace the reduced-time working scheme. Read more about the NOW >

How can we help you?

Please reach out to us using the contact details below or send an email to arbeidsrecht@hlb-van-daal.nlWe are pleased to help you!

Do you have any questions?

Contact mr. M.C.A. (Marc) Lichtenberg RB, Tax Advisor immediately at HLB Van Daal in Waalwijk.

Send an email or call +31 (0)416 33 05 05
mr. M.C.A. (Marc) Lichtenberg RB