If an employee is incapacitated for work due to illness, the starting point is that an employer has to continue to pay wages during the first two years of illness. Most employers and employees are familiar with this rule.
It is also generally known that a disabled employee enjoys in principle two years of protection from dismissal.
However, many employers find out too late during the period of illness of an employee that there are other rules they have not complied with. The UWV can in that case extend the obligation to continue to pay wages; also the protection against dismissal of the sick employee will then be extended proportionally.
An employee is advised against agreeing to termination of the employment agreement as long as the obligation to continue to pay wages continues. Agreeing to termination during illness can have as a result that the employee will lose his rights to benefits.
Both the employer and the employee are obliged to focus on a speedy re-entry of the employee to his job. It is of great importance that the obligatory steps in the rehabilitation process are followed and documented.
When it becomes clear that an employee will be ill for longer, he must be examined by a company doctor. Subsequently, there are mandatory steps to be taken within certain time limits. The company doctor will prepare a problem analysis and shortly thereafter, the employer and the employee will in joint consultation prepare a plan of action.
During a period of long-term incapacity for work, it is also important to plan for sufficient ‘less formal’ contact moments, to prevent that the employment relationship is put under pressure.