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Coronavirus in the Netherlands: important information for employees

On April 7, 2020 by WePayPeople

We receive a lot of questions from employees regarding the coronavirus, so we’ve decided to write a blog in which we answer a large amount of those questions.

More information about work, employment and the coronavirus can be found on the website of the Dutch government.

How can I protect people around me if I have to go to work?

If you’re obliged to travel to get to work, you want to avoid infecting others. Therefore, wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. For example when you go outside and return to your work. The following measures are necessary to reduce infections:

  • Cough and sneeze in the inside of your elbow
  • Dry your hands with paper towels and immediately throw them away when you’ve used them
  • Don’t shake hands
  • Keep at least 1.5 meters distance from everyone

Is it mandatory to work from home?

The Dutch government has instructed employers to let their employees work from home as much as possible. This measure applies until at least 28 April. Are you able to work from home, then please try to do this as much as possible.

Can my employer adjust working hours due to the coronavirus?

Yes, your employer can adjust the working hours. The Dutch government asked employers to spread the working hours as much as possible until at least 28 April.

What can I do to reduce the chance of contamination at work?

To reduce the chance of contamination at your work location, it is sensible to take the following measures:

  • Make sure everyone regularly washes their hands with soap and water and dries it with a paper towel
  • Make sure everyone sneezes and coughs in the inside of their elbow
  • Use paper towels and discard immediately
  • Do not shake hands
  • Keep at least 1.5 meters distance from everyone

To reduce contamination, it is wise to work from home if you have mild complaints. Mild health complaints include:

  • Sneezing
  • A sore throat
  • A runny nose
  • Light coughing
  • A light fever

If the symptoms get worse, you should contact your doctor.

The school/childcare is closed. What can I do?

Discuss with your employer if you can leave to arrange childcare. Normally, the leave can last as long as you need, this could be a few hours and a few days at most.

Can my employer oblige me to take holidays?

No, your employer cannot oblige you to take holidays.

Can my employer prohibit me from going abroad?

No, your employer cannot do this. The only thing that your employer can do is settle the date for your vacation. He or she can’t say anything about your holiday destination. Of course your employer may ask you not to travel to a risky area, but you don’t have to comply with this. (Even though it might be wise not to travel to a risk area.)

Can I refuse to travel to a risk area?

Whether you can refuse a business trip, depends on the travel advice given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The following rules apply:

  • If you are asked to travel to a country where a negative travel advice applies (color code red), you can refuse this trip
  • If you are asked to travel to a country with the color code orange, you may refuse this if it’s not necessary (necessary means: essential for the company)
  • Are you asked to travel to a country with no color code or a green color code (and is the trip part of normal work)? Then you can’t refuse the trip. Are you anyway and is there no work that can replace the trip? Chances are that it will get labeled as refusal of work

Does my employer have to provide things to work at home?

If you need certain things to be able to work at home, then the same applies as at the office: your employer is obliged to provide you with the equipment that you need to carry out your work. A telephone and laptop are the most common, but if you -for example- need a printer to do your work, then your employer has to arrange this as well.

How can I help my employer with reducing the risk of contamination?

Please keep the advice of the RIVM and Dutch government in mind if you want to help your employer:

The following actually applies: follow the advice of the government and RIVM.

  • Make sure everyone regularly washes their hands with soap and water and dries it with a paper towel
  • Make sure everyone sneezes and coughs in the inside of their elbow
  • Use paper towels and discard immediately
  • Do not shake hands</span
  • Keep at least 1.5 meters distance from everyone

Can hairdressers, pedicures or beauticians still work?

The Dutch government decided that until at least the 28th of April, people in contact professions -such as hairdressers, nail stylists, make-up artists, pedicures, beauticians and tattooists- are not allowed to work.

There is a chance that the measure will be extended after April 28.