Temporary workers often lose jobs over illness
In 2015 the Netherlands banned firing employees due to illness. Despite this, it is still common for temporary workers to lose their job if they are sick or otherwise incapable of working, Trouw reports.
An agency clause in the contract, which also forms part of the collective bargaining agreement, allows employment agencies to end a contract immediately when the work ends. The idea behind this is things like seasonal work, but it can also be used to end a contract because a temp is home sick.
Last year, over 12,000 temporary workers ended up getting an illness benefit, according to figures from benefits agency UWV. That is 3,000 more than in 2019. UWV told the newspaper that this is partly because more employment agencies include the agency clause in their contract. The UWV decides whether a dismissal is justified or not. But in the case of the agency clause, a sick temporary worker is automatically given an illness benefit.
Trouw asked trade union FNV about the agency clause in the collective bargaining agreement. "Unfortunately, that provision is not the worst part of this collective agreement," Erik Pentenga, director of the Flex sector at the union, said to the newspaper.
Losing your job as soon as you are ill is an incentive to go to work sick, Nuna Zekic, senior lecturer in employment law at Tilburg University, said to Trouw. "Certainly with the coronavirus, that is, of course, a bad idea."