Written by Stichting Burnout on 2 October 2019 in

It is not easy to be burn-out in the Netherlands, as non-Dutch speaker or expat.

Part of the employers, including company doctors that are hired as spokesmen by the employers, tries to abuse the fact you cannot understand Dutch, and cannot access Dutch law. Partly because Dutch law has its own concepts that cannot be translated.

The big financial incentive for Dutch employers is called ‘bezava’: see amongst others http://bezava.com. Bezava is a regulation that employers are fined when an employee leaves the company while ill. This incentive, or ‘malus’, usually ranges from 200.000 to 800.000 euro per case! See amongst others the average estimate stated by Winnock: 285.000 euro – https://www.winnock.nl/bezava-hier-moet-als-werkgever-op-letten/.

This bezava incentives usually triggers two kinds of reaction, when an employee complaints about burnout:

1) the employer tests burnout and acknowledges, and is supportive and prepared to pay burnout recovery coaching as offered by us, Stichting Burnout (info@burnout.nl). This usually costs 3.500 – 4000 euro, after which an employee is better (after 6-9 months) and bezava is not applicable, because there is no ‘leaving the company ill’. If the employer, after recovery, still wants the employee to leave the company, outplacement can be offered (which Stichting Burnout can also offer). This is clearly the win-win solution.

2) the employer denies burnout and tries all kinds of tricks. It starts with the company doctor: he (she) is hired by the hour in order to deny burnout. The company doctor fails to adhere to the burnout guideline and tests of his professional organisation NVAB – see https://nvab-online.nl/richtlijnen/richtlijnen%20NVAB/richtlijn-overspanning-en-burnout for the guideline. By law, art. 7:453 BW, the company doctor is supposed to follow a professional standard and thus comply to the guideline, but most company doctors do whatever the employer pays them to do, so deny the guideline. They tell you you have a conflict, tell you to leave the company, tell you to sign a ‘Vaststellingsovereenkomst’ which is forbidden in case of illness etc. This line of ‘denial and tricks’ can work when the employee allows to be intimidated, but fails if the employee takes the following actions a) – e):

a) insists on adhering to above guideline
b) asks for the tests at Stichting Burnout (info@burnout.nl)
c) goes to a psychologist to put the diagnosis in writing
(see https://burnout.nl/sb_wp/diagnose/burn-out-diagnose-hoe-herken-je-een-burn-out/ and psychologists:

Amsterdam-Noord: vanaf 1 februari 2020: info@arjanoud.nl, drs. psychologie, tel 020 618 3844 linkedin profiel, A&O en GZ psycholoog https://www.linkedin.com/in/arjan-oud/

Putten: dunsbergen@kpnmail.nl, psychologe

Nijmegen: info@bartdonkers.nl, psycholoog

When you have a burnout diagnosis in writing, also write to UWV, ‘afdeling ziektewet’, PO box 57015 1040 CT Amsterdam, to ‘cover yourself’. Write to UWV that your employer wants to trick you, and enclose the diagnosis of burnout towars UWV.

d) tells the employer you have a burnout diagnosis in writing, and that you sent it to UWV

e) hires a lawyer, google on ‘advocaat arbeidsrecht reintegratie LOCATION’ with ‘location’ the place where you want to visit the lawyer.

After those actions, the employer will hopefully realise that tricks will backfire, and that he will be fined by UWV.

Explain to the employer the win-win consists of: paying a few thousands euro to Stichting Burnout to get you better, including eg. 6 months of sickleave, and that that will guarantee no bezava will apply. And explain that if AFTER recovery (with external help, like from Stichting Burnout) they still want to get rid of you (ask straight in the face), they can better offer you outplacement. Which can also be carried out by Stichting Burnout.

You really need a diagnosis in writing, and a lawyer, because without those two the employer will think: ‘Ah, the employee does not know how to act, and does not have a lawyer, so we can continue with tricks and intimidation, next trick will be: withholding of all salary….he needs a lawyer to get his salary, but if he does not dare to hire a lawyer we can do it. No salary at all’.

The Netherlands is not a nice country or ethical country. It is a pragmatic, totally money-driven country. If above happens to you, think twice before choosing Netherlands for your next employment. Countries as Belgium, Germany and France are far more ethical towards foreign employees.

You may also read: https://burnout.nl/sb_wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/UK-English-customers-Stichting-Burnout-1november2015-Netherlands-international.pdf – special information about this topic of ‘expat burnout in the Netherlands’.

Please help improve the Netherlands by giving appropriate reviews (English is fine) to your company doctor (‘bedrijfsarts’) and his arbodienst on:
and on Google Maps. http://maps.google.com