Assessment of reintegration obligations
The Netherlands Civil Code stipulates that any employee who is rendered occupationally disabled is entitled for a further 104 weeks to continue collecting at least 70% of his or her wage from his or her employer. Any employee who on expiry of said 104-week term continues to be unfit for work is entitled to benefits by virtue of the Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act of the Netherlands (Dutch acronym: WIA). The application for such WIA benefits involves UWV, the Employee Insurance Agency, performing an assessment of whether the employer and employee have each made enough of a reintegration effort. In the event that the employer is found not to have done do so, this may prompt UWV – by the sixth week ahead of the date of expiry of the 104-week waiting period at the very latest – to extend the mandatory term of continued payment of wages by up to another 52 weeks.
UWV awarded WIA benefits to an occupationally disabled employee who had completed the two (2) year waiting period, and advised him in the context of its decision to the relevant effect that his employer had satisfied its reintegration obligations and had not had an SSP (statutory sick pay) sanction imposed upon it. The employee objected to the fact that no SSP sanction had been slapped on his employer. This objection was dismissed owing inter alia to the fact that it was no longer possible, now that the two (2) year term had ended, to impose such obligation to continue paying wages. The District Court, stating that it had identified no reasons for doubting the conclusions of the insurer’s medical adviser and the employment counsellor, dismissed the employee’s subsequent appeal as unfounded on denial of the employee’s claim for damages.
The Central Appeals Tribunal on appeal concurred by stating that the option to impose an SSP sanction was no longer available owing to the waiting period having expired, which was not to say, however, that the employee no longer had an interest in having the decision assessed by the administrative court, as the court having competence, according to previous rulings by the Central Appeal Tribunal, for adjudicating claims for damages in the event of UWV having decided against imposing an SSP sanction or having failed within the requisite term to decide on whether or not to impose an SSP sanction, with the administrative court in such scenarios having to perform a substantive evaluation of the employer’s reintegration efforts.
The outcome of the administrative court’s assessment in the matter at hand was that UWV had rightly adopted as its position that the employer had satisfied its reintegration obligations.