English-language advice

Right now, it’s especially important to remember employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees – even when working remotely. 

Things can change fast, so if you don’t speak Dutch, consider asking a Dutch-speaking employee to follow the latest developments. 

Useful English-language resources are:

We’ve used these and other resources to give a run down some of the best – and worst – practices for employers.

Do’s and don’ts for employers

Do encourage your employees to work from home

Unless it is impossible to carry out your work from home, such as the case for caregivers or transport workers, your employees should work from home. If this is still not possible, consider staggering working hours. Employees must stay 1.5 metres distance apart and ventilate the workspace if possible.

If your employees are permitted outside for work during curfew hours of 22:00 and 04:30, and you decide it is necessary for them to work, you must provide them with an Employer's Curfew Declaration signed by you. 

Working from home coronavirus lockdown Amsterdam (via Unsplash)

Do provide a comfortable and healthy workplace, wherever it is

No matter where your employees are working, you are responsible for providing them with a healthy workplace – so consider, for example, allowing them to take their office desks and chairs home with them. You can find more tips on helping employees stay fit and healthy while working at home on the Dutch-language SZW website Arboportaal.

Do take immediate action if an employee has coronavirus symptoms or tests positive

If an employee has a nasal cold, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, elevated temperature or sudden loss of smell or taste, they should stay at home. In case of a positive diagnosis, employers are required to initiate source and contact tracing.

Do wear masks in the workplace

Everyone aged 13 or over who enters a public indoor space must wear a face mask. This includes shops and practices of contact-based professionals, like hairdressers or physiotherapists. Face masks are mandatory for clients and employees, and you may be fined if your employees who work in a public space do not wear a face mask.

Do keep an eye on any changes in immigration and naturalisation processes

International employees may have chosen to return home and work from there, or maybe an employee cannot return to the Netherlands due to travel restrictions. This could affect their visa status, residents’ permit or 30% ruling eligibility in the Netherlands. The IND website has an FAQ on consequences employers should consider and what changes should be reported to IND.

For more advice, contact IN Amsterdam, the city’s one-stop service for international newcomers and their employers.

Do look into all the alternatives if there’s not enough work

If there isn’t enough work, you cannot force employees to take leave days, but you can discuss the possibility with them.

Alternatively, you can loan out employees via the government exchange programme NLWerktDoor! (link in Dutch), which will connect you with businesses seeking temporary workers. 

Do check the legalities around dismissing an employee

You may not want to, or be able to, renew an employee’s contract. Regardless of the reason, check the regulations carefully. Transparent communication is key.

What you shouldn’t do

Don’t ask if an employee has symptoms of coronavirus if they call in sick

Your employee is not obliged to share medical details with you. For reasons of privacy, you are not allowed to ask, but you may ask your employee when they think they will be coming back to work.

Don’t let your employee return to the workplace if a household member falls ill

Your employee must stay at home if a member of their household develops common cold symptoms or a fever. They must self-isolate for 10 days, unless they develop symptoms then they must isolate until they are symptom-free. If your employee cannot work from home, you must continue to pay them their wages. You cannot deduct leave hours unless you both agree to this.

Don’t withhold holiday allowance

You cannot withhold or delay paying holiday allowance, but you may be able to come to an agreement with your employee in writing, for instance as part of a larger plan for keeping the company afloat.

Don’t let your employee return to the workplace as soon as they come back from a high-risk country

If an employee has recently travelled to a country not on the safe list, they must self-quarantine for ten days, regardless of a negative test declaration. If they were there for work reasons and cannot work from home, you must continue to pay their wages. However, if an employee plans to travel for non-work reasons to one of these countries, advise them it will be their responsibility, in terms of time and costs, to be tested and self-quarantine on their return.

Don’t forget you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees, so follow all the latest developments

Things can change fast, so stay on top of all the latest news. To help your employees, you can share this IN Amsterdam article which offers a wealth of resources for international employees whose work, life and long-term plans might be affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The Dutch government and City of Amsterdam are offering a range of financial support packages to companies, including entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals, affected by the pandemic restrictions. Read about them here.