This article provides an overview of the sick leave policies relevant to B Lab employees based in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has extensive legislation around sick leave, long-term as well as short-term.  This article provides an outline of that framework with the objective to control, reduce, and - most importantly - prevent absence caused by sickness by addressing not only the symptoms of sickness but also the underlying causes. Sick leave policy at B Lab Netherlands aims to support an optimal work environment, a healthy and safe workplace, and good labor relations. 

Both employees and the B Lab organization play an important part in the successful implementation of this policy. Each has their own specific responsibilities. For details about these responsibilities, please refer to the Sick Leave Procedures section below. 

Please keep in mind that this article is not exhaustive; the POps team is happy to answer questions and provide support to teams for any information not covered by this article. Please reach out to us with any questions by opening a new ticket

Sick Leave

Sick Leave Philosophy in the Wider B Lab Context

Our organization's unlimited personal time off and sick time off policy (not specific to the Netherlands) allows employees to take the leave they need and aids in our effort to achieve high levels of employee satisfaction and productivity. We also acknowledge that when there is an unlimited policy, there is always a concern about the application of the unlimited nature of the policy. This policy is based on mutual trust between employer and employee. The general idea is that we (as employees of B Lab) are responsible for our work and work commitments. Below, we clarify what we ask of employees and what we ask of managers. 

We ask that employees: 

  • Be Prepared and Communicate: Being out of work for something that is unscheduled does push meetings, due dates, and other commitments back - that is understandable. What is important is how an employee responds to their responsibilities and commitments when the need arises. 
  • Lead with what you need: Being out of work in any significant way does have an obvious effect on an employee’s ability to complete work and be present enough to be effective at their job. Some individuals can miss more work and still be effective and others cannot. It is our goal to manage the work and not the people doing the work. Please ask for what you need so that managers can work with you to be supportive.

We ask that managers:

  • Help guide individuals in managing their own work (ultimately employees are responsible for this, but guidance, coaching, and support can be helpful).
  • Have frank conversations with employees about their performance, even when they are not out but especially when they have been out of work. 
  • Hold employees and themselves accountable for communicating time off using the HRIS (Namely), Slack, and other tools (Measure What Matters). This includes approving time in the HRIS.
  • Remember that exceptions can happen, but as a manager, it is important to be vigilant and consider the fact that exceptions can breed inequities. When an employee is in good standing and has exhibited the ability to meet deadlines and commitments (external and internal), managers may create forms of intermittent time off that could allow for a different interpretation of sick/personal time.
  • Ask for support from P&C if they feel that something is unclear or there is a request that has not been outlined in this policy.

While this framework lays out the basic leave philosophy at B Lab, specific requirements apply to B Lab employees in the Netherlands specifically. The rest of this article provides specific details for how this philosophy should be applied in the Netherlands context. 

Wet Poortwachter and the Arbo Service Provider

The Arbo service provider provides assistance to B Lab in maintaining and acting upon a responsible and effective health, occupational, and sick leave policy, according to Wet Poortwachter. They do this by working closely with both employer and employee, who both have a responsibility to cooperate in moving towards a speedy recovery and return to work.

The Arbo service provider may make use of several people with different roles, depending on the specific situation, including: physicians, health and safety advisors, and sick-leave management coordinators.

The Arbo service provider and HR will ensure that all necessary activities are carried out in a timely and effective manner and that the company is in full compliance with all applicable legislation. The specific responsibilities, steps and details of this compliance can be found here.

Sickness Prevention

By recording, researching, and analyzing of the causes of absenteeism, B Lab has identified a number preventative measures that can help reduce sickness and sickness-related absenteeism. These can be divided into two categories: actions taken by the organization and actions taken by the employee.

Actions that are currently taken by B Lab to reduce sickness and sickness-related absenteeism include:

  • Ensuring a healthy and safe work climate where this can be discussed openly during team and individual meetings
  • Discussing absenteeism and the consequences thereof during one-on-ones, individual performance and team meetings
  • Working closely together with our Arbo service provider and the Arbo physician
  • Promoting healthy life style and providing information to our employees
  • Providing wellness programs for our employees
  • Providing training to managers to deal effectively with employees and thus prevent absenteeism 
  • Ensuring correct registration for absenteeism and sick leave and generate periodic reports for analysis and taking appropriate action

Actions that should be taken by B Lab employees to reduce sickness and sickness-related absenteeism include:

  • Maintaining a healthy life style 
  • Focusing on being able to return to work as soon as possible
  • Addressing topics with their Manager that may influence their well-being or health at work
  • Being fully productive as soon as possible in their own function or an alternative function
  • Actively maintaining open communication with their direct supervisor  
  • Following directions from the Arbo physician or other specialist 

Payment of Wages During Sick Leave

At B Lab, employees are paid up to 100% of their usual wages for the first 6 weeks of continuous illness. 

If an absence due to sickness continues after the 6th week, 90% of the employee's usual wages will be paid for the remaining period, for up to 6 months of long-term continuous illness. After this period (as of the start of the 7th month of continuous absence), 80% of the employee's usual wages will be paid for the remainder of the first year of sickness. In the second year of continuous sick leave, 70% of the employee's usual wages will be paid.

1st day – 6 weeks100% of base wage
7th week – 6 months90% of base wage
7th month – 12 months80% of base wage
13th month – 24th months70% of base wage

For the hours worked during the re-integration period after an extended period of sick leave, the employee will receive full wages.  

If the incapacity for work as a result of illness lasts longer than one month, the right to reimbursement of expenses will lapse until the incapacity for work has ended. This includes, for example, the expense allowance for commuting.

The above supplement of the wages above the legal minimum payment of 70% of the capped SVB wage (as intended in article 7:629 of the Dutch Civil Code) will not be applicable if the illness is caused by the employee’s own fault, by gross negligence, or with intent. 

Sick Leave Procedures

Calling in Sick

If you can’t (come to) work due to sickness, you will need to call and notify your manager, in person, on the first day of sickness before the start of the work day. You must also log your sick day in our HRIS/Namely. Both your manager and Global HR will be notified.

If you fall ill during the course of the day, you will need to notify your supervisor in person.

In both of the instances described above, you will need to inform the manager of the following:

  • The expected duration of the illness
  • The location/address and the telephone number where you can be contacted
  • Whether the inability to work has been caused by pregnancy or an accident (at work)
  • Which work-related activities can still be carried out (if any) 
  • Pending appointments and other work which need to be re-allocated

Both you and your manager will also need to agree on the next moment of contact.

Due to privacy regulations, your manager and HR representatives are not allowed to ask for specific information regarding your symptoms or any other details about your illness. In case you voluntarily provide such details, this information is not allowed to be registered or documented.

HR Global will coordinate with you and your manager and carry out the necessary registration with the Arbo service provider.

Conflict in the Workplace

If you are not able to carry out your work due to a conflict in the workplace, you should not call in sick. Instead, you should address the situation with your direct supervisor to obtain a time-out for conflict mediation in order to resolve the conflict.
However, if you also have an illness that hampers you from doing your job, aside from the conflict, then sick leave is an appropriate solution. In this case, HR will coordinate as necessary with the Arbo service provider to determine whether, aside from the conflict, there is indeed an illness.

Availability of the Employee

Employees are expected to be available for calls or (unannounced) visits from the employer or the Arbo physician. So, during the first 10 days of sick leave, you must be available on a daily basis between 9.00 am and 12.00 pm at your indicated address and telephone number. 

Regular and frequent contact between you and your employee and supervisor is strongly recommended.

If the Arbo representative is unable to reach you during the agreed upon time slots or at your specified address, any resulting charges to B Lab will be forwarded to you and you will be expected to cover them.

If you will be residing at a different address during your illness, make sure you inform your manager and Arbo. 

Fit for Work Notification

In most cases, you will be able to return to work within a short period of time. As soon as you are fit for work, you should notify your manager and HR Global and make arrangements for your return to work. HR will handle the necessary de-registration with the Arbo service provider. 

In the instances that illness occurs repeatedly (short-term frequent illness) or for longer than several days, the Arbo service provider will be involved.

  • On the 1st day of illness, you must report to your manager and HR to ensure registration on the Arbo portal.
  • In the 1st through 5th week, you must maintain regular, scheduled contact with your Manager and HR or the Arbo absenteeism consultant to discuss progress towards your return to work. You will also be scheduled to visit the Arbo physician. This visit is to evaluate whether and when your are expected to be fit for work again. You are obliged to cooperate with such requests. 
  • In the 6th week, the Arbo physician will report on your ability and projected return to work. This report will be shared with you as well as B Lab. The Arbo physician may decide that you are partially fit to return to work. This may mean phasing in your presence on the job, a reduced workload, adjustment of your regular activities, or any combination of the these measures.  On the advice of the Arbo physician, you and your manager will agree upon a schedule or alternative work activities as part of the integration process, until such time as you are considered to be fully fit for work again. If there is the risk of your sick leave lasting longer than 6 weeks, a case manager will be assigned who will ensure that the reintegration guidelines and responsibilities are followed.
  • In the 8th week, you and your employer will discuss a plan of action, based on the physicians’ recommendations. Both you and your employer must document the agreed upon actions and responsibilities and the next agreed upon moment of contact . 

We would like to reiterate here that during long-term illness, regular contact between you and your supervisor is strongly desirable in order to avoid estrangement.

For further information regarding the Poortwachter trajectory for long-term illness and disability, please visit the website (in Dutch). 

Vacation During Sick Leave and Sick Leave During Vacation

If you wish to go on vacation during your sick leave period, you need to obtain permission from your manager, as well as a statement of no objection from the ARBO physician. The vacation should not impede full recovery. 

If you fall ill during your vacation period, these days will be recorded as sick days only if:

  • You report your illness to your manger and HR Global on the first day of illness. You are expected to do this in person by telephone. 
  • Should you be abroad, a medical statement from a local physician must be presented upon your return to work. 

Right to a Second Opinion

You have the right to object to the ARBO physician’s advice and to request a second opinion. The costs for this will be carried by B Lab.

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