I am living in The Netherlands and recently left my last job due to a stressful work environment. However right before I left I became very sick and have been sick ever since. I have seen several doctors and they have all told me it is a stress-related condition caused by over-working. To clarify, I have been sick for just over three weeks now.

I am due to start my new job on December 1st (just over three weeks from now), however my doctor has told me that I may not be better by then, and I may only be able to return to work in January.

It is not certain that I won't be able to return to work by Dec. 1st however it is a possibility. How should I handle informing my new employer about this and what kind of a reaction might I expect?

My new employer is also very anxious for me to start work with them. The original plan was that I was going to start working for them already but Dec. 1st at the latest.

  • I think you should add the info whether your sickness is contagious or not. In the first case, your employer would most likely not want you to start working too early. I think it is also better to remove your pic, as you really newer know who is reading here. Nov 8, 2017 at 7:12
  • Stress induced conditions are not contagious.
    – Adam
    Nov 8, 2017 at 7:41
  • 1
    Not sure how this works in the Netherlands, but the insurance systems are similar, so here goes. In Germany, the law for that the company keeps paying your salary for 6 consecutive weeks when you are sick (Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz) only kicks in after you have completed the first four weeks of your new job (§ 3 Abs 3). If you are sick earlier, the health insurance pays Lohnfortzahlung, but only if you inform them about the illness immediately. Forgetting to send that paper is a costly mistake that I have experienced first <strike>hand</strike> broken arm.
    – simbabque
    Nov 8, 2017 at 15:36
  • So given that I was first diagnosed about 2 weeks ago would this disqualify me (assuming the systems are similar)?
    – Adam
    Nov 8, 2017 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


How should handle informing my new employer about this and what kind of a reaction might I expect?

No job is so good to be more valuable than your personal health and mental sanity.

That being said, you should definitely inform your new employer about this situation. I would first try to speak to your doctor so he can give you a more precise date. If it seems like you will indeed have to start after the specified date (Dec. 1st) then proceed to inform your employer.

If you do, make sure you explain your health situation and what the doctor considers is best time for you to start. Your employer can either take it good or bad, but there is nothing you can do to change the way he will take this news.

I also advise you to be careful here. You don't want this stress situation to repeat itself in this new job, otherwise you will surely continue having health issues like that until you solve it from its source (which seems to be overworking, as you suggested). This is something you should meditate by yourself, so it does not affect you in your future jobs.


I have had colleagues in the Netherlands who changed job while being in therapy for burn out or other serious health conditions. As far as I know, it's not something that will prevent you from getting a job, as long as you are open about it with your employer.

You may ask your doctor advices on how to handle it with your employer (he/she will surely have other patients in the same condition). Maybe you can settle to start working part time (0.6 or 0.8 FTE) and then gradually increasing your work load as your health situation improves.


Your health is the most important thing by far. Stress can result in permanent health problems if not treated, so don't try to soldier on if your doctor advises you not to. I have a permanent, incurable disability caused by stress, so learn from my mistake.

From an employment point of view mental health issues are no different to physical ones, e.g. if you broke your leg or got the flu. You have a date when you expect to be recovered that you can give to your new employer.

In a way it's actually a good test of the new employer, to see how they handle this issue. If they handle it badly, maybe they are not the best place for you. Hopefully they will be understanding, I think the Netherlands is a pretty progressive place when it comes to mental health issues.

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