Nurse wins Long Covid compensation case, picks up infection at work

A healthcare company has been held responsible in court for the financial impact suffered by a worker who developed Long Covid, in the first case of its kind in the Netherlands.

The 28-year-old nurse, who worked at a nursing home in Zuid Holland, won her case last December but the verdict only became definitive this week, health news website Zorgvisie reported.

The woman was able to show that she picked up coronavirus at work at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. She went on to develop post-Covid complaints which are still having an impact. She is unable to work properly and faces extra costs for domestic help.

The woman’s lawyer is now looking at the size of the claim which will be submitted, which experts suggest could be several hundred thousand euros, Zorgvisie said.

The woman worked with people with dementia and was not always able to keep to 1.5 metres distance. In addition, the nursing home’s doctor did not give staff permission to wear face masks because this might frighten patients, and because of the shortage of PPE.

The court ruling clears the way for other healthcare workers who picked up Covid at work to make a similar claim.

Earlier this month, trade unions lost a legal fight to secure almost €23,000 in compensation for healthcare workers who have been on long-term sick leave with coronavirus.

The FNV and CNV unions sought an injunction demanding the payments for Long Covid sufferers who were infected during the first wave of the pandemic.

Own merits

In that case, judges ruled the claims could not be settled through collective action, but must be considered individually on their own merits. The court also rejected the unions’ demand to force the Dutch state to negotiate a settlement for sick workers, saying there was no legal basis for doing so.

Around 1,000 staff in hospitals, care homes and other institutions have been declared unfit to work after contracting coronavirus in the spring of 2020, causing their income to drop by around 50%.

Healthcare workers were exempt from many of the quarantine rules in the early months of the pandemic because the government feared the system was on the brink of collapsing.

Long-term care minister Conny Helder said last month that the cabinet was working on financial support for affected workers.

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