Working Conditions Health & Safety

A healthy and safe workplace includes:

  • a proper workplace and safe equipment
  • the prevention of physical and psychological stress
  • prevention from contact with dangerous substances, radiation and contagion

You are obliged to record details of the occupational hazards and corresponding countermeasures in a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E). The Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA) offers an online self-assessment tool for employers to check if they know all the risks in their company and have implemented the appropriate measures.

The Working Conditions Act [Arbowet], the Working Conditions Decree [Arbobesluit], the Working Conditions Regulation [Arboregeling and the Working Conditions Policy Rules [Arbobeleidsregels] sum up the Dutch government’s target conditions. Employers and employees need to use a working conditions catalogue to agree on how they are going to achieve these target conditions.

A working conditions catalogue may apply to only one company or to an entire sector. In case an organisation has a global policy regarding Health, Safety and Sustainability, please make sure the working conditions catalogue is part of this policy.

Local Emergency Assistance [BHV]

The Working Conditions Act [De arbeidsomstandighedenwet/Arbowet] obliges the employer to seek assistance of employees who have been designated as Emergency Response Officers (ERO). The tasks of the ERO are:

  • Provide first aid in the event of accidents;
  • Contain and extinguish fires and consequences of accidents;
  • Raise alarms and set evacuation in place for all employees and other individuals in the office or establishments in case of an emergency;
  • Make sure the emergency plan (company emergency plan), and the mandatory evacuation plan are in place.

External third party specialists can learn the ERO more about CPR, AED, first aid and fire hazard control. Also the application of devices like AED and fire extinguishers will be taught and the ERO needs to do refresher courses. How many EROs the company need is depending on the results of the Risk, Inventory & Evaluation.

Risk, Inventory & Evaluation (RI&E)

Employers, employees and government have a strong common interest in good working conditions. The Occupational Health and Safety (Working Conditions Act) requires every employer to conduct a health and safety policy aimed to an optimal working conditions for employees. Providing a safe and healthy workplace starts with getting an understanding of the risks. A Risk Inventory & Evaluation (RI&E) enables to improve working conditions.

Occupational Health & Safety Service [Arbodienst]

Occupational Health and Safety Service (OHSS) [Arbodienst] is an independent service organisation which offers services on Working Conditions, Risk Inventory & Evaluation (RI&E) and Sickness Absence.

Employers in the Netherlands must be supported by a working conditions expert in the event of:

  • illness of your employee (absenteeism guidance)
  • appointment examinations
  • health examination: voluntary periodical occupational health examination (PAGO) or a periodical medical examination (PMO)

According to the Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act (Wvp) Employer and employee are jointly responsible for the earliest possible resumption back to work in the event of incapacity due to illness. Please read more about Sick Leave Protocol, PAGO, PMO and the role of the Occupational Health and Safety Service.

Counsellor / Trust person [Vertrouwenspersoon]

According to the Health and Safety Act [Arbowet], the Employer is required to protect employees from psychosocial stress.

An important element in this Act is to appoint a counsellor and offering counselling for employees. The counsellor/Trust Person [Vertrouwenspersoon]  is responsible by the Health & Safety Act to support the Employees in regard to:

  • Discrimination, including sexual harassment
  • Aggression and violence
  • Bullying

Duties of the Counsellor: 

  • Provide initial assistance to workers who are harassed and need help and advice;
  • Check whether a solution in the informal atmosphere is possible.
  • Inform the victim about other possible solutions, such as complaints procedures.
  • Provide assistance if the Employee wants to raise a complaint committee or management of a company.
  • Provide referrals of other assistance agencies, such as a mediator.
  • Provide information on the approach to inappropriate behaviour.
  • Advice and support executives and management in preventing inappropriate behaviour.
  • Register cases of inappropriate behaviour.

The counsellor is always committed to protecting workers’ information as there is a duty of confidentiality. The counsellor role can be appointed by the Employer to an in-house counsellor or can be outsourced to a specialist/ external provider.

Working conditions certificates

A working conditions certificate is mandatory for a number of products, activities and systems. Read more about working conditions in the:

Working Hours Act

The Working Hours Act regulates working hours, rest periods, breaks and night shifts. The government is protecting employees for long working hours. These rules are aimed to protect your health, safety and welfare and to make the combination work and family life easier. The Working Hours Act regulates working hours, rest periods, breaks and night shifts. The government protects employees against long working hours. In the Working Hours Act rules are provided as of:

  • working hours
  • rest periods
  • breaks
  • night shifts
  • service calls
  • working on Sunday

For the brochure on the Working Hours Act in English, please visit this link to download the Brochure Working Hours Act. Click on Download document called  “Arbeidstijdenwet Engels”, to read the English version.

Amendment of Working Hours

Employees are allowed, when employed for more than 6 months, to submit a request to change in working hours under the Working Hours Decree. The Employee can send in this request once every year. The company will review the application and verify this to legal criteria and company regulations and will respond within a month. When changing the working hours the employment benefits will be calculated pro rata. Note, the individual working hours cannot exceed 40 hours per week. The employment benefits will be adjusted accordingly starting, from the date of the change in working hours. (e.g. Holiday pay, vacation days and pension).

Part-time and flexible work

Part-time employment is very common in the Netherlands with more than half of working women and 15 % of men in a part-time job of 32 hours per week or less. Many Dutch organisations have schemes allowing you to work flexible hours, from home or from another location. In general, work-life balance in the Netherlands is rated high to very high. The average working week in the Netherlands is 40 hours. In many companies, lunch breaks are not part of official working hours (and therefore not paid for). If the employee works 8 hours a day, it is expected to be present between 8.5 and 9 hours, depending on the breaks.

For more information about the employment contracts, please read the section Talent Acquisition & Onboarding of employees.