Healthcare workers won't get advance on Long Covid compensation, court rules
Healthcare workers who lost their jobs due to an inability to work caused by their early coronavirus infection will not get an advance on the Long Covid compensation, the court in The Hague ruled on Wednesday. According to the court, this compensation claim can’t be awarded in a class action procedure because assessments on whether healthcare workers are eligible for compensation must be done on a case-by-case basis.
Trade unions FNV and CNV filed this lawsuit against the Dutch State. They demanded an over €22,000 advance on the compensation for healthcare workers infected with the coronavirus in the first phase of the pandemic in 2020 and then lost their jobs due to ongoing Long Covid symptoms. “Our healthcare workers were sent into the field in the first months without protection. The State is responsible for this, and we believe that the State is also legally liable,” FNV vice chair Kitty Jong said when they filed the lawsuit.
But according to the court, it can’t award a large group of healthcare workers the demanded advance in this case. “Whether affected healthcare workers have a right to compensation for damage must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This requires an assessment based on each concrete situation: where and under what circumstances did the healthcare worker become infected?” the court said.
Therefore, the court didn’t rule on whether and in which cases the State acted unlawfully toward the healthcare workers.
The judge also rejected the trade unions’ demand to order the State to enter consultations about a financial settlement for healthcare workers with Long Covid. “In the court's opinion, there is no legal ground that obliges the State to enter into consultations.”
Last month, Medical Care Minister Conny Helder announced that the Cabinet would draw up a financial scheme for healthcare workers incapable of working due to Long Covid. She did not give many details, only saying that people would only be eligible for compensation if they provided “frequent and intensive” care to Covid-19 patients in a hospital, nursing home, or care home between March through June 2020. A doctor must also have determined that they have had coronavirus-related complaints for over two years.
Helder also said that she considers the financial scheme separate from the lawsuit filed by FNV and CNV, but that she may take the ruling into account when setting up the scheme.