By  Ilse Baijens Associate - Netherlands Bronsgeest Deur Advocaten and Aimée Peterse Associate - Netherlands Bronsgeest Deur Advocaten

The Netherlands has introduced temporary measures into the Working Conditions Decree to control the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. This article explains what they mean for employers.

Recently, the Working Conditions Decree was amended in connection with the control of COVID-19. 

Article 3.2a of the Working Conditions Decree sets temporary additional requirements in connection with controlling COVID-19. Under it, the employer is obliged to take measures when setting up the workplaces to prevent and/or limit the risk of infection for employees and third parties in the workplace as much as possible. 

The measures that the employer must in any case comply with are: 

  • ensuring adequate hygiene facilities; 
  • providing effective information and education for employees on how to combat COVID-19 in the workplace; 
  • appropriate supervision of compliance with these measures. 

What does this mean for you as an employer? 

Under the Working Conditions Act, the employer has a duty of care to guarantee a healthy and safe working environment. The Working Conditions Decree then contains specific rules on how an employer can concretely comply with its duty of care. The Working Conditions Decree already contained general rules about the organisation of workplaces, but the government has now imposed temporary, additional rules in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which oblige employers to take measures to minimise the possible risk of infection in the workplace. These measures apply in addition to the general working conditions rules.   

Employers must ensure that their employees and third parties in the workplace understand what is expected of them and that they comply with the measures. Employees, but also any self-employed individuals and/or volunteers are obliged to comply with the rules set by the employer. 

What exactly you as an employer must do to guarantee a safe and healthy workplace within your organisation depends on various circumstances, such as the nature of the organisation and the activities (see here) for an article on suggested measures from May 2020, in Dutch). In that context, it is advisable, in the context of these new regulations and the still ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, to reassess the RI&E (Risk Inventory & Evaluation) and clearly identify the risks. 

What if you as an employer do not comply with the rules regarding working conditions?     

Breaches of the new temporary measure (Article 3.2a Working Conditions Decree) will result in a serious violation. This means that the Inspectorate SZW has the authority to immediately stop work in the event of a repeated violation without prior warning. The Inspectorate SZW can also impose an administrative fine.