Implementation of measures to help solve continued wage payment snags
Any employee who is rendered occupationally disabled is entitled to (up to) two years’ worth of continued wage payments by his or her employer, the latter being statutorily obligated to continue making the relevant payments. The current Dutch cabinet’s coalition agreement contains proposals aimed at mitigating the pitfalls associated with the system of continued wage payment to employees who are lastingly off sick.
The Minister for Social Affairs and Employment has addressed the matter in more detail in a letter to the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament, in which he has inter alia announced that a sick leave insurance outsourcing facility for SMEs is being introduced effective the first of January 2020, as the best possible solution for easing the burden on small-scale employers, most of whom have taken out insurance to cover the financial risk the continued wage payment obligation brings with it. The Minister has now reached agreement with various employers’ organisations and the Dutch Association of Insurers regarding the creation of a sick leave insurance outsourcing facility for SMEs, which in addition to providing for cover of the financial risk is to make it easier for small-scale employers to comply with the various obligations and commitments associated with continued wage payment to their occupationally disabled employees. One of the elements of the new insurance arrangement will be a reliable and affordable service package covering the two-year period in question. The insurance arrangement has been designed to be “Gatekeeper-proof”, to ensure that employers should be safeguarded financially in the event that the continued wage payment period is inadvertently extended.
It has additionally been decided to introduce a premium discount – most of which is to benefit small-scale employers – vis-à-vis the costs of continued payment of wages during the second year of occupational disability. It is the Minister’s intention no later than by 2024 to introduce a differentiated Invalidity Insurance Fund contribution scheme in replacement of the premium discount facility.
The professional opinion of the company medical officer in the context of the assessment of the reintegration effort will be regarded as leading from 2021 onwards, and will be what the employer and employee will have to base the reintegration path on. The present situation allows for the medical adviser for UWV, the Employee Insurance Agency in the Netherlands, presenting an opinion of his or her own that is not necessarily in keeping with that of the company medical officer. This in turn may prompt UWV to extend the period of continued wage payment by the employer. The Minister intends to put a stop to the current practice of having UWV’s medical adviser asses the company medical officer’s opinion, by devolving the assessment in question in its entirety to UWV’s own occupational consultants.
Dutch version: Maatregelen knelpunten loondoorbetaling bij ziekte