Outgoing Minister of Employment Karien van Gennip has been severely reprimanded by the Advisory Board on Regulatory Burden (ATR). While Van Gennip wants to enable SMEs to get rid of long-term ill staff more quickly by means of a bill, the advisory board judges that that proposal is ‘difficult to implement’ and faces ‘practical objections’.
But that advice in turn leads to disappointment at MKB Nederland, according to director Leendert-Jan Visser. His supporters have been pushing for years to relax these rules, especially for small businesses. “This does not achieve our ideal,” he says. ‘We would like to limit the risk to one year, but that is not possible in the current politics.’
He therefore finds it disappointing that the advisory board does not include the agreement that MKB Nederland concluded with outgoing Minister Van Gennip – ‘in which an employer can conclude that if an employee has not recovered after a year, the employee will not return’ – in the decision. “We were promised that there would be enough medical examiners, and if that’s not the case, things will be difficult.”
And therein lies the crux, according to the ATR. According to the advisory board, the implementation of the bill would be hampered by a lack of medical examiners, but also by a lack of cooperation from sick staff. Visser: ‘When we made the appointment, we did indeed discuss that number of medical examiners. The ministry already indicated at the time that it was a bottleneck that could be overcome.’
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According to Visser, ATR rightly points out that ‘weak point’, and he assumes that Van Gennip will come up with a solution to the problem when the law is submitted for consultation. He would prefer to see SMEs actually being enabled to limit the risk after a year of illness. ‘Currently, entrepreneurs can take out insurance within the framework of a two-year risk, so they no longer have to worry about the financial risk and the guidance rules regarding sick staff,’ Visser explains. ‘It is pricey, but that does eliminate the risk.’
However, the new proposal states that if an employee has not been reinstated within a year, it is a given that that employee will not return to the company and a vacancy may be drawn up for him. “But that must be able to be confirmed by a medical examiner,” he concludes.