Working and sickness benefit: what to expect?

Working and sickness benefit: what to expect if you are still employed?

Are you working and receive sickness benefit from you employer? During the Sickness Benefit (Ziektewet) period, you will normally receive your salary paid by your employer during the 1st 2 years. This is the case when you have a permanent job. If you are a temporary worker, on-call worker (oproepkracht) or substitute worker (invalkracht), your employer usually does not pay your salary during sickness.

You can apply for sickness benefit if your employer does not continue to pay your salary during illness. After 2 years of sickness you can apply for WIA benefit. You can read how the WIA inspection works in my blog post ‘WIA consultation at UWV: how to prepare for the WIA benefit’. If you already have a WIA benefit and you are going to work in addition to your WIA benefit, read my blog post: ‘WIA benefit and work’. In your situation you have been reported sick to your employer and the time has come that you can try to work again. How does this work?

What guidance do I receive with a Sickness benefit (Ziektewet) and working during the Sickness Benefit (Ziektewet) period?

Employer

After a period that you were no longer able to work, the time has now come for you to start working again alongside your Sickness benefit (Ziektewet) or that you are in the middle of a reintegration process. If you are still employed by your current employer, you and the employer will investigate whether it is possible to start your own work activities. 

working and sickness benefit: employer
working and sickness benefit: employer

Health and safety service (arbodienst) or company doctor (bedrijfsarts)

You will be guided by the health and safety doctor (arbo dienst) or company doctor (bedrijfsarts). How much you could work depends on your current working conditions, duration of travel and your health situation. The labor expert (arbeidsdeskundige from UWV) will then look at your options to get back to work. Normally, your work schedule is built up quietly, for example first 1 or 2 days a week with 2 hours of work. If you keep this up for a while, this work schedule will be expanded and the hours are gradually built up to prevent you to get sick again.

How do you deal with colleagues during working and Sickness benefit (Ziektewet) ?

Stay in regular contact

It may be that you have already been invited by your employer to have a cup of coffee at work during your sickness or that your employer has visited you. In this way you still maintain some contact with your boss and your colleagues. It is recommended that you keep in touch with your manager or boss during your sickness. If this is not the case and you start again, this may feel a bit uncomfortable for both yourself and your colleagues when you are back in the workplace.

Getting used to be back at work

For example, your colleagues have to get used to the fact that you are no longer working all day. Your colleagues may think that you will take up your old job responsibilities and have certain expectations. For yourself, starting to work again can be overwhelming. You may be easily tired and distracted and suffer from concentration or memory problems. Or you are frustrated that you are not (yet) able to carry out your work as before.

working and sickness benefit
working and sickness benefit

Good communication and setting boundaries

It is important to communicate well to both your boss and colleagues. Communicate about what you can and cannot do at the moment. Practicing to set boundaries for yourself and your boss and colleagues is therefore very important! If you have a good relationship with your boss and colleagues, it is good you communicate about your work-related issues . If you have a good relationship with a colleague , he or she can also pay attention and help you. Your colleague can help you not to cross your boundaries. At last your colleague might inform you in time when you are ready for the day with work. 

Do not share your entire private life

Please note that you do not share personal private matters with colleagues because unfortunately not everyone deals with this discretely. Of course you do not want all kinds of gossip about you going around. In addition, you do not have to inform your employer in detail about your sickness. In addition, the company doctor (bedrijfsarts) may not just pass on personal data and details to your employer.  

How is the WIA calculated ?

The 1 st 2 years of sickness are paid by your employer when you have a permanent job. You will often be paid 100% salary in the 1 st year of sickness. From the 2 nd year of sickness you will receive 70% salary by your employer. The uwv.nl website contains information about continued payment of wages during sickness .

Will I lose my job if I can no longer work and receive sickness benefit?

Your employer may not fire you during the 1 st 2 years of sickness . If you have been sick for more than 2 years, you can apply for the WIA benefit and you are no longer employed by your employer. Previously, an employer could still keep you in service with a ‘slapend dienstverband’ where you were not fired but also received no salary. These ‘slapende dienstverbanden’ are now a thing of the past and are no longer allowed. It may be that your employer is self insurer (eigenrisicodrager) which means your employer is responsible for your sickness benefit for the first years in stead of the UWV.

If you have been sick for less than 2 years, it will first be checked whether you can continue to do your former work. Is it not possible, it can be examined whether you can do other work temporarily that is less stressful for you or work part-time. If it is clear after some time that returning to your own work is no longer possible, you and your employer look at other work that you could do.

What are my obligations with a Sickness benefit and working?

Participate in your recovery

You are obliged to cooperate with your recovery. It is up to you to do everything to recover as quickly as possible. If you have been sick for a longer period of time, you will work with the employer to make a plan of action (plan van aanpak) that includes your reintegration action plan. So you make agreements about your progress together. Every 6 weeks, your employer will evaluate how you are doing.

Disturbed work relationship

In some cases it may be that there is a disturbed working relationship between you and the employer and that the employer, for example, does not cooperate with the reintegration obligations while you try your best to follow the rules. If you have been sick for more than 2 years and you apply for WIA benefit, the UWV will also investigate whether the employer has cooperated with you (reintegration obligations) . If this is not the case, it may be that the employer still has to pay your salary for an extra year while you are already receiving a WIA benefit from the UWV.

Duty to inform

In addition, you must report any changes in your health to the UWV. If your health situation is getting worse or if it has improved,please contact uwv.nl . Also contact UWV if you want to go on holiday, whether you are going to follow a course, whether you are in a divorce or whether you have money problems.

Appointment with the company doctor (bedrijfsarts)

You are obliged to have regular contact with the company doctor (bedrijfsarts). If it is still too early for you to start working, please communicate this with the company doctor and state why you think you cannot work yet. Let the company doctor think along with you what could help you to recover in addition to the treatments you are already following to recover.