About the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV)
The Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen in Dutch, or UWV) is the Netherlands’ public employment service, an autonomous administrative agency that administers Dutch employee insurance policies and collects labor market data on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, or SZW). The UWV mainly deals with issues pertaining to employment and unemployment, including the termination of employment contracts, and it is the UWV that will decide whether an employee is entitled to benefits upon becoming ill or unemployed. Our attorneys have experience representing clients in Dutch labor and employment law issues, including dismissal and termination, employment contracts, transition pay, redundancy and more. For more information about dealing with the Employee Insurance Agency, or to learn about your rights as a Dutch employee, contact our legal team today.
What is Employee Insurance?
Employee insurance (werknemersverzekeringen in Dutch) provides employment-related benefits for those who work in the Netherlands. This includes unemployment benefits, sick leave and disability benefits. Employee insurance in the Netherlands is subject to a number of laws, including:
- Unemployment Insurance Act (Werkloosheidswet, WW)
- Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet, ZW)
- Work and Care Act (Wet arbeid en zorg, WAZO)
- Work and Income [Capacity for Work] Act (Wet werk en inkomen naar arbeidsvermogen, WIA)
- Full Invalidity Benefit Regulations (Regeling inkomensvoorziening volledig arbeidsongeschikten, IVA)
- Return to Work [Partially Disabled Persons] Regulations (Werkhervattingsregeling gedeeltelijk arbeidsgeschikten, WGA)
- Invalidity Insurance [Self-Employed Persons] Act (Wet arbeidsongeschiktheidsverzekering zelfstandigen, WAZ)
- Invalidity Insurance [Young Disabled Persons] Act (Wet arbeidsongeschiktheidsvoorziening jonggehandicapten, Wajong)
What Does the UWV Do?
The UWV is responsible for administering these employee insurances in the Netherlands and all labor matters related to unemployment, extended sick leave and disability benefits in the Netherlands are handled through the UWV.
- Unemployment benefits – If you become fully or partially unemployment in the Netherlands, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. In order to make permanent employment contracts more attractive to Dutch employers, the new Labor Market in Balance Act (Wet arbeidsmarkt in balans inDutch, or WAB) made it so that employers pay a lower unemployment insurance contribution for permanent employees than for temporary employees.
- Extended sick leave – If you are sick for a long period of time, your employer is required to continue paying your salary for a maximum period of two years (104 weeks). The Labor Market in Balance Act states that if your employer terminates your employment contract after two years (with approval from the UWV), you are entitled to transition pay for the total duration of your employment.
- Disability benefits – If you have been sick for more than two years and you are still unable to work, you may be entitled to benefits through social security disability insurance.
UWV Vision and Mission
The UWV states on its website that “People are at their best when they can participate in society by working. Society functions best when as many people as possible participate in it by working. It is our mission to work with our partners to make a difference for people by promoting work. If work is impossible, we ensure that income is available quickly.”
Keeping in line with this vision and mission, the UWV provides assistance in several key areas pertaining to labor and employment in the Netherlands, including employment and reintegration, i.e. helping employees stay employed or find employment, as well as evaluating ill employees and their capacity for work; and benefits and temporary income, i.e. ensuring that employees receive the benefits they are entitled to in a timely manner. The main goal of the UWV is to help people in the Netherlands find jobs or, if work is not possible, to ensure that they receive an income. On average, 1.4 million individuals and families in the Netherlands depend on the UWV for their income. The agency also works with employers to find personnel, while making it easier for employers to keep sick employees employed.
UWV and Dismissal Law in the Netherlands
As an employee in the Netherlands, you have certain legal rights with regard to your employment contract and Dutch dismissal procedure, and the current employment legislation in the Netherlands makes it more difficult for employers to terminate their employees’ employment contracts. The only way a Dutch employer can dismiss an employee is under the following circumstances:
- Termination with authorization from the UWV,
- Dissolution of the employment contract by court ruling,
- Termination by mutual consent (both employee and employer agree to terminate the employment agreement),
- Expiration and non-renewal of a fixed-term employment contract (must give one month’s notice),
- During the probation period, or
- Summary dismissal for an urgent reason.
The type of permission your employer needs to terminate your employment contract depends on the reason for dismissal. There are eight specified grounds for dismissal in the Netherlands (a-h grounds), plus the new “cumulative” ground (i-ground) introduced by the Labor Market in Balance Act, which entered into force on January 1, 2020. The following are the original eight grounds for dismissal:
- Redundancy (economic reasons)
- Long-term illness
- Frequent absence due to long-term illness
- Unsatisfactory performance
- Culpable behavior on the part of the employee
- Conscientious objections
- Damaged working relationship
- Other circumstances that are of such a serious nature that the continuation of the employment relationship cannot reasonably be expected
Again, the type of permission an employer needs to dismiss an employee depends on the reason for the proposed dismissal. If, for instance, the termination is due to a damaged working relationship, the employer will have to go to court to dissolve the employment contract. If the dismissal is for an urgent reason, the employer can, in some cases, terminate the employment contract effective immediately (known as a summary dismissal). If an employer wishes to terminate the employment of an employee during the probationary period, he or she can do so at any time without observing a notice period. However, employers are required to obtain permission from the UWV before terminating an employee’s contract for either of the following reasons:
- Frequent absence due to long-term illness lasting more than two years, or
- Economic circumstances affecting the business.
Employer Obligations for Terminating Employment
Any employer in the Netherlands who plans to dismiss one or more employees must first obtain a dismissal permit from the UWV before giving notice to the employee or employees whose employment contracts will be terminated. If the employer dismisses an employee without prior permission from the UWV, the dismissal is invalid, and the employee’s contract will be reinstated. In order to garner approval from the UWV, the employer must give the reason or reasons for the proposed dismissal, which may include improper conduct on the employee’s part, redundancy due to economic reasons, or poor performance, among other so-called grounds for dismissal. The UWV is responsible for evaluating the validity of the proposed dismissal. Once the dismissal permit is granted, the employer must observe a waiting period of at least one month.
Transitional Compensation Fee Scheme
The UWV also handles certain matters related to transition pay. As of April 1, 2020, employers in the Netherlands can recover compensation for transition payments they have paid out in situations involving the termination of an employment contract due to long-term illness or disability, if the employee was unable to work for two years or more. In order to recover compensation in such cases, the employer must submit a request for reimbursement to the UWV. This is known as the Transitional Compensation Fee Scheme and compensation will only be awarded under this scheme if the ill employee has been made redundant due to a long-term incapacity to work because of illness or disability, the employee was eligible for transition pay, and the employer paid the transition pay to the employee.
Contacting the UWV
The following are the addresses of UWV branch offices in larger cities in the Netherlands:
UWV office in Amsterdam
Address: Delflandlaan 3-5
Correspondence address: Postbus 8071 1005 AB
UWV office in Rotterdam
Address: Laan Op Zuid 393
Correspondence address: Postbus 51200 3007 GE
UWV office in The Hague
Address: Leeghwaterplein 1
Correspondence address: Postbus 16140 2500 BC
UWV office in Utrecht
Address: Moeder Teresalaan 100 and 200
Correspondence address: Postbus 2064 3500 GB
UWV office in Eindhoven
Address: Boschdijk 20
Correspondence address: Postbus 678 5600 AR
Our Employment Law Attorneys Can Help
The UWV oversees a number of matters related to extended sick-leave, disability benefits and unemployment in the Netherlands. If you work in the Netherlands, you might come into contact with the UWV if you face dismissal at work, you become unemployed, or you are unable to work due to illness or disability. If your employer requests permission from the UWV to terminate your employment contract, or if you have been dismissed by your employer and you believe the dismissal is a violation of the law, we recommend retaining the services of a knowledgeable Dutch employment law attorney who can help you understand your rights and legal protections. Dutch labor laws are extremely protective of employees and our legal team can assist you in any legal matter covered under Dutch employment law, including employment contracts, dismissal, transition pay and more.