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Sickness, sick pay, rights and duties for riders in The Netherlands - Right to be sick

You have a right to be sick. You have a right to sick pay. Riders are being cheated across the board when it comes to being sick. Here we give a primer and explainer on what to expect.
We demand of the delivery companies to inform workers and managers of riders’ rights and set up functional and legal frameworks for reporting sickness in their companies.

Dutch labour law can be quite a labyrinth. So let’s start with some firm and clear principles.

See also our step-by-step how-to when sick at Thuisbezorgd

Principles, basic duties, ground rules on sickness for Riders in The Netherlands

  1. You have a right to be sick.
  2. You have a right to sick pay.
  3. You have a right to recover from sickness without company harassment or pressure.
  4. You report in once, to your manager, that you are sick, and that’s that. Well wishes for your recovery.
  5. Your boss is not allowed to ask you what is the reason for your sickness. If he does ask, you don’t need to answer.
  6. Your boss is only allowed to ask: when do you think you will be better? You are not required to answer this.
  7. You don’t need to report in every day.
  8. You must work on your recovery e.g. getting better.
  9. You must answer and co-operate with the company doctor.

We riders fall under all kinds of cao’s (collective labour agreements) and different kinds of contacts.
In those contracts there can be a multitude of further rights and/or duties specified regarding sickness. But as a rule of thumb, what’s said above is applicable.
We will be working on this document as a work-in-progress to make it as specific as possible.

If it’s unclear, best to contact your local branch of Radical Riders. If you’re not yet a member, join, it’s free. If you’re not yet in a local branch, mail us.

Giving away shifts or taking leave when sick is wrong

We have heard distressing reports of people not getting sick pay;
we’ve heard reports of people being pressured or forced to ‘give away’ their shifts when sick;
we’ve even heard of people being made to organise their own replacement when sick and then losing pay.
That’s all unjust, unfair, straight up mean. And it’s brutally illegal.
When you’re dealing with these situations, please write in, so we can discuss this matter in detail. Together we can get you your rights.

Height of sick pay for riders in The Netherlands

You have a right to at least 70% of sick pay, or 90%, depending on your contract. If you’re sick because of pregnancy or giving birth, you have a right to 100% of wages. You have a right to sick pay for 104 weeks, thus two years. If you’re still sick after, or if your contract ends within the time that you’re sick, you go into the ziektewet, sickness law. Your wages will be paid by the Dutch state’s UWV institute.

There’s this things called wachtdagen, waiting days. Depending on your contract and your cao, the first and / or the second day of sickness will be unpaid. In some contracts, wachtdagen will be used when you’ve been sick once before. This is penalizing being sick and is horribly unjust, indeed, and it’ll be on the things well be fighting to change. At some companies wachtdagen will be pushed on you even when the contract and cao do not allow for it. If in doubt, please contact us.

Amount of hours calculated for sick pay

This is where it can get really messy. When you have a contract with a fixed amount of hours and that is the amount you actually work, great, you don’t need to do anything. If you’re on a 0 hours contract, a min-max contract, or you’re working more hours then are stated in your contract, you might need to take action. A good employer would fix this for you and pay you according to the avarage of your actually worked hours, but we cannot rely on that.

When you’re for any of these reasons are sick, you need to make sure that you get paid according to the avarage of your actual worked hours. Depending on your contract and cao, this is calculated of the past 3 months (13 weeks) or 6 months (26 weeks). You can demand, and have a right to, let your contact be changed to your actual worked hours. The employer is not allowed to refuse this request, but some are known to do so anyway. This is offcourse why we have a union and we can help you with that. The FNV union (friends of ours) has an example letter that you can just fill in and send to your employer in this case. Need help? Write in.

Structural problems regarding sickness: low pay, waiting days, calculating avarage working hours

We think it’s unjust that when one is sick, one loses pay, 30% usually. As if sick people also get a discount on their rent!
We think it’s unjust to calculate avarages over the last 13 or 26 weeks. As if getting sick in your 9th week means bread and gas is suddenly cheaper!
We think it’s unjust to penalize sickness by calculating wachtdagen or waiting days, meaning the first 1 or 2 days sickness are unpaid. If you’re sick you’re sick.

These issues are structural. We need to unite and fight to change this. Untill then we’re stuck with this unjust system.

What to expect when long-term sick

There is no limit on your right to be sick. After two weeks the company can send a doctor by called the bedrijfsarts or the company doctor. He can evaluate if you’re rightfully sick, but he is not allowed to share that info with your boss. So it’s never your boss that decides. It’s you, and when long-term sick, you and a bedrijfsarts, that decide.

You and the bedrijfsarts will work together on your recovery. It goes to far to explicit here all the many steps involved, from week to week and month to month, what will happen in all eventualities. Perhaps it’s more clear to give some general principes:

  1. Cooperate with your own recovery.
  2. Cooperate with the company doctor and follow his decisions or guidance.
  3. Communicate well and clear with the company doctor.

When you abide by this, generally, you have done all that is required of you, and your income is guaranteed.

What are valid reasons for being sick?

Any reason. Any reason is a valid reason to be sick. It’s not up to your boss to decide what is valid or what is not. You can have a flu, have a busted knee. You can have had a accident in your private life that impedes your right to work, doesn’t matter. You can have a mental issue like burnout, depression or anxiety. Any reason is valid. When you say you are sick, you are sick. That’s the ground rule.

Can sickness or reporting sick be used against me?

No, your boss is not allowed to use being sick against you. He may not terminate your contract because of it or penalise you in any way.

Also regarding your further carreer your sickness at one job may not be used against you; legally, it’s as if it never happened. So for example when you change jobs, and your future boss inquires at your former job on your performance and such, your former boss can never say anything about you being sick.

My rights on sickness or sick pay are violated

Legally we got quite some rights. Getting those rights is sometimes quite a different thing indeed. And that is why we have unions. Right! That’s why we organise. And that’s why we need you, and your colleagues, to join. If your rights are violated, all of our rights are violated. Join up, let us fight for you, we need eachother.

Self-employed worker (ZZP) and sick: what to do?

Technically, when you’re self-employed, you don’t have a right to sick pay. Technically, you should get an insurance for sickness when you’re self-employed. But equally so that whole self-employment thing is a farce. We’re just all workers. You’re not really a company. We can fight for getting you sick pay, regardless. Especially if you’re sick because of something that happened to you at work. The workers’ solidarity network Vloerwerk, our friends, recently won a case with a steel worker who was self-employed against Tata Steel for sick pay. Getting sick pay when self-employed is trickier, but possible.