COVID-19 and work

How does COVID-19 affect my work?

COVID-19 is influencing our daily lives. It also affects us at work. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we must follow certain rules.

Frequently asked questions about work and COVID-19 

For the time being, the measures from the national government also apply at work. This means:  

  • The advice to stay at home for least half of your work hours 
  • Don’t shake hands with other people 
  • Sneeze and cough in your elbow  
  • Keep at least 1.5 metres distance from each other 
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly 
  • Stay at home if you have a cold and get tested at the Municipal Health Service (GGD) 

Follow as many good hygiene measures as possible. Wash your hands thoroughly and often and keep a distance from your sick roommate. If several people in a household are found to be ill, the GGD (or the mayor and council members) may implement further measures, such as self-quarantining. In this case, you would be obliged to stay at home. 

Your employer may take out health insurance for you. The costs may be deducted from your salary. The health insurance is in your name. You must therefore have your own health insurance card. 

Your employer cannot force you to work while ill. If you are ill and unable to work, your employer must continue to pay you. There may be 1 or 2 waiting days in which you will be paid. There are agreements about this in your collective agreement (CAO). 

It is important that your boss does not let you continue working if you are ill. Otherwise, your colleagues could also get ill because of you. 

If you don't have a home, you might be eligible for shelter. The Social Support Act [Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning (WMO)] regulates help and support for citizens so that they can live independently at home for as long as possible and continue to participate in society. Contact the municipality of your residence for help and information. The municipality checks whether you qualify for a place in a shelter.  

You can read more about the travel restrictions on the website of the Government

Your employer may ask you whether you have been vaccinated. They need good justification for that. You do not have to answer this. Your employer is not allowed to record this information. Your employer may give you a test, but you are not obliged to take it in order to get access to your workplace. 

Frequently asked questions about less work and income because of COVID-19

What you can and cannot do when you go on holiday abroad is changing all the time. So, please check the website of the Dutch Government. You will find the latest information there.  

No, your employer is not allowed to forbid you from going on holiday abroad. Your employer is not in charge of your private life. 

Your employer cannot force you to take holidays or leave. This is only allowed if it is stated in your collective agreement or employment contract. It must then state that your employer can determine when you take your holidays.  

Did your employer suggest the best time to take your holiday hours and you agreed? Then according to the law, you have requested these hours yourself. Did you not agree? Then your employer cannot simply stipulate that hours not worked be recorded as holidays. This also applies to non-scheduled hours. 

No, you do not have to agree to that. Your employer may only change your fixed holidays in very special cases. For example, if you have to cancel a booked holiday, your employer must reimburse the costs.  

Yes, you may ask your employer to withdraw the holiday hours you have applied for. The holidays are determined according to the employee's wishes. We believe that your employer may only refuse your request for holidays if there is a compelling business interest.  

An example of a compelling interest is that your employer has already hired a replacement to do your job and there is not enough work for you if you do come to work. Another compelling interest may be that not all holidays can be shifted, because your employer will then have problems with the schedule later in the year. It is questionable whether the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis are a serious reason. Ultimately, a judge will have to decide on this. We therefore recommend that you discuss your situation with your employer and state your reasons for withdrawing your holiday. Try to find a good solution together. It is good to submit your request and motivation in writing to your employer. 

No, your employer cannot just fire you for the sole reason that you have been on holiday in an amber country. Your employer can charge you for the quarantine days when you return from an amber holiday area (if it was amber when you left). This can be done by your employer not paying you for that period, or you might take days off for the period you have to spend in quarantine. After all, you took the risk of travelling to an amber area yourself. 

You are entitled to be paid when you are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. This may be different if you have been on holiday to a red or amber country. You must then also go into quarantine.  

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccinations and work 

No, they can’t. This would be a violation of two fundamental rights: the right to privacy and the right to physical integrity (being able to decide for yourself what happens to your body). 

You should always try to schedule a vaccination appointment outside working hours. If this is really not possible, you can apply for calamity leave and other short-term absenteeism leave (Art.4.1 of the Work and Care Act [Wet arbeid en zorg]). You are then entitled to paid leave for the time you need to be vaccinated. 

The FNV believes that if you do not get vaccinated, it should not have a negative impact on you. It is not easy to get fired for this. Your employer must first make it clear that there are no other ways for you to work safely. For example, with a negative test and the use of a mask. Your employer must continue to ensure that you can do your job safely. Is your employer causing you problems because you’re not vaccinated? If so, contact the FNV

Your employer may ask this of you, but you do not have to answer. A test or vaccination is not compulsory. Therefore, you are not required to show a test certificate, vaccination certificate or COVID-19 entrance certificate. So your employer is also not allowed to scan the QR code from the COVID-19 check app either. It is privacy-sensitive information because it concerns medical data. Even if you give permission, your employer is not allowed to store this information.  

No, they can’t. Your employer is not allowed to ask and register whether you have been vaccinated. There should be no difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated workers. Therefore, a mask mandate for non-vaccinated workers cannot be introduced. This is contrary to the Dutch constitution and privacy laws.  

No, they can’t. Your employer may not force you to take a test. Nor should it have any consequences for you. You can decide for yourself what happens to your body. We also call this: the right to physical integrity. For privacy reasons, your employer is also not allowed to store your medical data. This is regulated in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR gives people more privacy rights. Even if you give permission, your employer is not allowed to record this information. The relationship between employer and employee is not equal. This means that you may feel obliged to undergo preventive testing, even though you do not want to. Is this happening at your workplace? If so, contact the FNV

If you have COVID-19-related complaints and you call in sick, you have to cooperate in reintegration. That means returning to work. In this context, your employer may ask you to undergo testing. If you do not cooperate in your reintegration, this may affect your pay. Hence, our advice to get tested in case of complaints. But even now, you are not obliged to get tested. But, be careful. Because if you refuse, it can be interpreted as you not wanting to cooperate with your reintegration. And that can affect your pay. 

No, they can’t. No one is obliged to undergo a COVID-19 test because everyone can decide for themselves what happens to their body. This is a fundamental right and is also called the right to physical integrity. 

Also bear in mind that a test is only a snapshot. The employer must always take measures to ensure a safe workplace, such as keeping a distance, putting up screens or providing face masks. This also applies if employees voluntarily take a COVID-19 test. 

No, they can’t. It is a violation of your fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy, the right to decide what happens to your body, and the ban on discrimination.  

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 infections and work

This depends on the situation. Every employer has a right of instruction. This means that they have the right to tell you how to do your job. A mask mandate is, however, an infringement of the constitutional protection of personal rights. 

You cannot simply refuse to wear a face mask at work. If the employer makes it compulsory, the employer must provide the masks free of charge. In some cases, wearing a face mask is medically more burdensome. Contact the company doctor if this is the case for you. 

Talk to your employer and tell them you don't feel safe. If you think that your employer is not doing enough to protect you against the COVID-19 virus, you (or the works council) can always make a report to the SZW (social affairs and employment) inspectorate. The SZW Inspectorate supervises compliance with the laws and regulations in the field of working conditions.


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