Are you ready for the amended Working Conditions Act?

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Are you ready for the amended Working Conditions Act?

GES Alert

As from July 1 next, employers will have to implement amendments to their safety, health and welfare policy because of the amendments to the Working Conditions Act. This alert lists the amendments to the Working Conditions Act and it explains how this will affect employers.

24 february 2016

Introduction

The Senate adopted the bill on amendments to the Working Conditions Act (“Arbowet”) on January 24, 2017. As from July 1 next, employers will have to implement a number of major amendments to their safety, health and welfare policy to comply with the new legislation and regulations.

The amendments to the law come on the back of an evolving labor market, in which long-term employability of the working population is increasingly important. The workload in the Netherlands has risen considerably too, in recent years. It has resulted in more and more employees dropping out with work-related afflictions.

This alert lists the amendments to the Arbowet and it explains how this will affect employers.

1. Amendments Working Conditions Act

The amendments to be applicable as from July 1, 2017 particularly regard an increase of the involvement of employers and employees in occupational health and safety services, prevention of health and safety issues in companies, and the preconditions for how company doctors should be acting. The following are the main amendments.

  • The Works Council will be granted the right of consent in appointing the occupational health and safety officer and what position this person will have within the organization.
  • Employees will be entitled to consult their company doctor without an employer’s consent, even if they are not sick.
  • Employees will be entitled to a second opinion by a second company doctor, unless compelling arguments dictate otherwise.
  • Company doctors must have the opportunity to visit any possible workplace in a company.
  • Minimum requirements will apply for the contents of the basic contract with an occupational health services provider.
  • The opportunities to impose sanctions of the Inspection Service of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment will be extended.

2. Consequences for employers

Employers and occupational health services providers will have the opportunity to adapt the existing contracts through May 31, 2018. All contracts must meet the amended conditions if they have been entered into after July 1, 2017. If employers have no basic contract for occupational health and safety services, the Inspection Service of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment can impose a penalty without any warning being necessary. Employees, though, can already avail themselves of items such as free access to the occupational health and safety services and the second opinion as from July 1, 2017. We therefore recommend to arrange a meeting with the occupational health services provider soon, to come to additional agreements about a smooth-running absence management and prevention of unexpected invoicing by the occupational health services provider.

Following the amendments to the law, policy and safety documents of many employers will no longer comply with the statutory requirements. Examples of this include the safety, health and welfare policy, policy on sickness absence, and the Risk Assessment & Evaluation. Hence, we recommend to deal with the coming amendments to the Arbowet quickly.

3. Focus areas

Considering the more prominent role occupational health and safety officers will be given and the close contact they will maintain with occupational health services providers, a reassessment of the process involved in supporting sick employees is a logical next step. Involving occupational health and safety officers in this process will create support from within the organization, with employees and employers alike being responsible for a proper implementation of the sickness absence process.

Know more about the Working Conditions Act?

Want to know more about this topic? Please contact Jolanda Jansen +31 (0) 88 288 4284

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