Employer can ask you to hand in vacation days if you are in quarantine, but you can refuse that

Absenteeism at the workplace continues to rise due to the corona infections. Employers are asking quarantined employees to still work or hand in their vacation days. Can they do the latter? “Only with the employee’s consent.”

Since 1 December, the FNV trade union has already received eighty reports from employers asking their employees to do so. “It is not a large number, but it shows clearly what problem is currently occurring,” says Pascal Besselink, an employment lawyer at legal service provider DAS.

‘Threatening with all kinds of measures’

According to Besselink, employers are faced with a major dilemma. Companies are affected by a high number of sick reports. “It is not strange that a few employers try to force their employees to work. But that ranges from asking kindly to threatening with all kinds of measures.”

That does not mean that employees should actually follow these measures from their boss. In case of infection or close contact with an infected person, the advice remains to go into quarantine, says Besselink. “Employers must also follow that advice.”

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Infections in the workplace

Besselink says that employers take a big risk if they ask these kinds of things from their employees who should actually be quarantined. Especially when they let an infected person work. “If they infect someone else, you will have to deal with an even greater absenteeism,” he says.

An employer will be in even bigger trouble if an employee can demonstrate that the contamination took place in the workplace. “If someone becomes ill for a long time from a corona infection, the employer can be held liable.”

Taking holidays

Some employers even go so far as to ask employees to take vacation days during their quarantine. But don’t worry, as an employee you are always there for yourself: “According to the law, you can only write off vacation days with the consent of the employee,” says Besselink.

“We must not forget that it is an employer and employee problem,” he adds. He can well imagine that employers want to look for a solution together. Both parties look at ‘sharing the pain’, according to Besselink. “Then an employee can still take vacation days. But that can only be done in mutual consultation.”

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Quarantaineregels

Since the end of December, the quarantine rules in the Netherlands have been adjusted. People who have had close contact with an infected person must quarantine for 10 days, even if they have been vaccinated or cured. To prevent society from coming to a standstill, countries such as Belgium, Germany and France have shortened the quarantine period.

The new Minister of Health Ernst Kuipers has asked the OMT to look at the quarantine rules. He told RTL Nieuws today: “I have asked whether the rules still apply to this current variant and whether there are possibilities to adjust the rules.”

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