Burn out at work? Dutch labour law

Advocaat ontslagregeling Amsterdam

Our experienced lawyer for employment and dismissal law in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, gives legal advice on dismissal and compensation for burnout caused by work. Did you suffer from burnout while working for your employer in the Amsterdam area and would you like to receive compensation for this? In general, it appears to be very difficult to successfully hold the employer liable in court for the consequences of burnout. If the employer disputes that the burnout was caused by work, you as an employee will have to prove it. Often, however, a judge will rule that burnout-like symptoms such as stress, heart disease, etc. can also have a cause other than work.

Call our employment lawyers: 0031 20 – 522 1999 

Dutch labour & employment law: employer must ensure safety at work

In short, the Dutch law states that the employer must ensure that the employee is not exposed to too many dangers. This is also the case if, for example, an employee is structurally forced to work much too hard, work a lot of overtime and, as a result, collapses. The employer must protect an employee against this. All this is stated in article 7:658 paragraph 1 of the Dutch Civil Code. Based on this article, a Dutch employer has the (duty of) care to do what is reasonably necessary to prevent an employee from suffering damage in the performance of his work. However, the employer may prove that he has fulfilled his duty of care (or that the injury is the result of intent or deliberate recklessness on the part of the employee) and thus that he has fulfilled his obligation as an employer to provide a safe workplace and healthy working conditions.

How does the Dutch court deal with a claim for compensation from an employee who has become ill as a result of work?

In Dutch case law we find many examples where the judge points out that burn out can have various causes. The judge then says, for example, that stress can be caused by many circumstances and is strongly individually determined. The lawyer of an employer often argues that stress can also be caused by personal circumstances such as a poorer condition so that someone is less able than normal to cope with the demands his work places on him. As a result, the workload may have been perceived as too heavy.

Employment lawyer must prove that stress is only caused by work

This means that the lawyer of an employee who claims that he or she has stress-related complaints due to work will have to prove that the complaints were caused by work and not by something else. Usually only a medical expert can say something meaningful about this.

Illness: factors in the private sphere

Mentioning health complaints as a result of structural overtime and stress during the employment is therefore not enough if it cannot be excluded that burnout is caused by factors in the private sphere. The employee must really be able to prove the link between the health damage and the working conditions: the so-called causal link. 

Blame partly on the employee

Sometimes the judge in The Netherlands also places the blame partly on the employee. If, for example, the employee is overqualified and very perfectionist, and therefore constantly takes on extra work, it may be that the employee is unable to sufficiently substantiate that the health complaints are the result of (only) working for the employer. 

Statement from the general practitioner and/or psychologist. 

Finally, it must be established that there is a real case of burnout. An employee can prove this with the help of expert statements, such as a statement from the family doctor and/or psychologist. 

Dutch case law has shown that employers are only liable if it was completely clear to the employer that the employee was experiencing a (too) high workload and the employer subsequently took no action to resolve the situation. Then it must be very serious. 

However, the problem lies mainly in the causal connection, because burnout is often caused by a confluence of work and private circumstances, and can therefore have all sorts of causes.

Make an appointment with an experienced employment lawyer in Amsterdam for questions about work and burnout

Our employment lawyer in Amsterdam specializes in legal advice in employment matters. For this you can contact our experienced lawyer employment law and dismissal law in Amsterdam mr. P.Chr. Snijders: 020-5221999.



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