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Small firms want changes to sick pay rules

Friday 09 November 2012

Small firm bosses say they should not be made to foot the bill if workers take unnecessary risks with their health and end up claiming sick pay, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

The paper says the economic downturn means small firms are increasingly unwilling to take on new staff partly because of the requirement they fund sick pay for workers who become injured outside work.

‘To ensure small firms continue to generate jobs, we have to break through the taboo which says there is no difference between work-related and private risks,’ Mark van der Horst, the chairman of the small firms' association MKB in Amsterdam, told the paper.

In total, some 850,000 people work in the sectors where employers are urging change, the Telegraaf says.

Too expensive

‘A window cleaning company with three employees cannot carry the extra cost of losing a colleague to injury,’ Frits Huffnagel, chairman of the Fokwa small firms association said.

The situation in the Netherlands with regard to risk is skewed, Huffnagel said, pointing out that employers would be responsible for paying staff who were injured while taking part in a riot.

However, the FNV trade union federation dismissed the plan as ‘unsavoury’. ‘No-one goes on a skiing holiday to break a leg,’ a spokesman said.

In Dutch law, employers are responsible for paying sick workers at least 70% of their salary for two years. Many pay deals include a top up to 100% in the first year.

Are small firm bosses right? Have your say using the comment box below.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

as a small business we cannot afford the double salary of along term sick colleague plus the salary of someone to replace them.
Taking someone on as a flexible replacement is also dangerous.
Simply small businesses go bankrupt

To protect ourselves we have more people on "zero hour contracts" this is not ideal.
Also we do not hire women who are likely to get pregnant.

For this reason many industries like building and health only hire self-employed ZZPers just to get around the laws

By nd | 9 November 2012 9:36 AM

If you really want to make a fair system for all, the first step would be to disallow big pharma from making the huge & unfair profit on drugs. Far too many people have faith in modern medicine that kills thousands of people every year.

If the government is in charge, it should be the one to care of it's people, seeing as it's responsible for the good of all.

(Firms should be held responsible for any accidents pertaining to safety negligence & foot the costs thereof.)

By The visitor | 9 November 2012 10:50 AM

I don't see why they have to be so heavy handed here. There are plenty of ways to get people to work more when it comes to sick day allowances. For example, if you are away on holiday and become sick, you can claim those days you were ill as sick days and tack on more vacation day. That is absurd! Let people enjoy their lives without fear of consequence but trim the fat of an over-indulged nation.

By Mary | 9 November 2012 11:24 AM

I'd say the middle-way should be best. People should be free to go on a skiing holiday without consequences, to take this article's example, even if the risk of breaking a leg comes true.

However, when someone goes off the piste and there breaks a leg or something, THEN said person took too much risk, and THEN this proposition can go through.

Of course, same as when you are in the piste, but do something that just asks for an accident.

So basically: it doesn't matter how dangerous it is what you're doing, as long as you do it normally.

By Someone | 9 November 2012 7:48 PM

Slightly OT.
Why don't the government do something about the way sick pay is paid out to agency workers.
Several years ago I had an minor accident at work.
The agency contacted the UWV who are responsible for the payments. I then recieved a letter from UWV telling me that it could take up to four weeks before I recieved any payments from them.
I spent 3 & 1/2 weeks at home & was back at work for a week before I got my sick pay.
Why can't they pay it when it's needed instead of several weeks later?

By Donaugh | 10 November 2012 7:25 PM

Why should an employer have to pay for employees risky life style. This includes smoking, alcoholism, drug use, being overweight risky sexual behavior etc. etc. It's time that we all take responsibility for our own actions and not make someone else pay for our poort choices.

By astrid | 11 November 2012 11:13 PM

astrid: how do we define risky behaviour? if an employee buys a boat and gets too drunk and crashes it in the weekend and seriously injures himself, then the company shouldn't have to pay him his wages? people are flawed and vulnerable, they make poor decisions often and unusual things happen pretty often from what I see around me. alcoholism is a recognized medical disease and many people are overweight due to their genes, these are not choices. where's the boundary in your opinion?

By Z | 12 November 2012 11:11 AM

It feels like back to the 19th century. BTW, why would workers pay the price for unnecessary risks taken by their company's management ?

By Philippe | 12 November 2012 2:25 PM

Astrid, I agree fully with you. As each year passes we see people taking less and less responsibility for their own actions - looking to blame (or sue) someone else. The burden needs to return to individuals; companies are not responsible and in my view should not be liable at all. No work, no pay. If you want this type of cover, insurance companies should provide it at a cost. If you slip on some stairs and break a leg, don't sue someone for it - accept that you were at fault and that it was an accident. I hate seeing society moving to this "I am not accountable" mentality.

By A Nonny Mouse | 13 November 2012 7:34 AM

How come employers do not buy insurance for employees sick pay here?

By ufo | 13 November 2012 9:14 AM

if the current set of rules and laws regarding employment in NL are followed, then there is no problem. however if certain individuals or companies think they can make up or alter the rules and do things 'their way' regardless of the laws we all vote into place thereby damaging or threatening someone at their job, then suing may indeed be a very effective manner to force those that are getting paid to be responsible, to actually be responsible and DO THEIR JOB correctly - regardless of any flimsy unimportant personal opinion they may have. this is called responsible objective upper level management - a very rare thing here in Europe.

By monika | 13 November 2012 12:33 PM

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