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I'm employed in the Netherlands and have been off sick due to migraine for two days. My employer has now asked me to provide a doctor's note for those two days. Are they allowed to request this or can I self-certify for the first few days in the Netherlands? I've only just moved here and don't know much about my rights.

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  • This mostly depends on the laws in netherlands and possibly your work contract. – everyone Jul 11 '18 at 15:03
  • Check your contract or company policy. If you regularly get migraines, you might want to talk to your employer about that (since going to the doctor each time presumably doesn't make much sense for that), or ask a question here about that specifically. – Dukeling Jul 11 '18 at 16:49
  • Aside from your current predicament, informing yourself of your rights when moving/working abroad is really a top priority and largely your own responsibility. If you have trouble finding information because you don't know Dutch you can try to go to HR for help or a basic primer. – Lilienthal Jul 11 '18 at 18:45
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Can my employer request a doctor's note after I missed work?

No.

This overview page linked in the comments explains it fairly well and addresses your main question explicitly:

An important focus point is that employees in The Netherlands do not have to submit a doctor's note when they report in sick. The Netherlands does not apply the system that is widely used in many other countries.

And this is correct. This article in Dutch focuses more on long-term sickness but covers the legal aspects. Specifically article 14 of the Arbeidsomstandighedenwet (Arbowet) specifies that an employer is required to seek advise from a certified specialist on matters of non-attendance ((ziekte)verzuim)

There's more to it than that but the gist is that a Dutch employer is not considered capable to judge whether someone is medically fit to work and is therefore not allowed to ask for, verify or record medical details. As a result any kind of verification of someone's ability to work has to be judged by a company doctor (bedrijfsarts who is often, but largely incorrectly, called arboarts). If your employer suspects foul play, he has to approach that through his company doctor (or a service he hires to do so). This doctor will then determine whether you are fit for work (arbeidsgeschikt) or not. His verdict typically trumps that of your personal doctor (huisarts) as they are by virtue of their education and function more qualified to judge impact of illness on your capability to work.

However, you should also check the so-called voorschriften bij ziekteverzuim which is the fancy term for company policy covering sickness. They can stipulate how your employer is allowed to verify your inability to work, or to require you to prove it. But they need to respect three basic rules: the voorschriften have to be:

  • written down
  • reasonable
  • necessary (to determine the right to wages)

The previously linked article goes into more detail on the topic, but the short of it is that you should consult your company policy.

The point I'm unclear on is whether said policy would allow them to require doctor's notes, but based on the emphatic no from the first article linked I rather suspect not.


Legalities aside, you should simply say the following to your manager:

As I understood our policy, we're not required to submit a doctor's note when calling in sick. No matter how debilitating, a migraine isn't something I would go see a doctor over. I feel terrible that I had to call in sick so soon after starting but I hope that you know that I wouldn't do so unless absolutely necessary.

Ideally you'd say this face to face to judge their tone and so you can continue the conversation to figure out why they're asking if you get any kind of push-back. If you have an HR department I would go to them first to verify the information here and whatever is in their company policy.

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Whenever I have called sick days at work (I work in the Netherlands), I have never been asked to provide a certificate. In some cases the company may require you to be available for a visit from a doctor chosen by them.

Check your contract first, than maybe check with union if this is legitimate.

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I have never ever had to do this (also in the Netherlands). When you are sick for a longer time (over a week), or your employer is expecting foul play, you get a phone call from a doctor, asking you how you are doing. Personally, this has never happened to me, and I have never heard about this from anyone being sick for 2 days. Is this a Dutch company or international? International companies tend to be stricter with this in my experience. Still, I do not think it's normal practice but I do not think it is against the law either. I guess it should be either in your contract or the company guidelines.

This is the reason why I ask this always in my first week at a new company, what the procedure about calling in sick is.

Maybe this link (in dutch) can provide you with some more info: https://www.fnv.nl/themas/ziekte-en-re-integratie/re-integratie/bedrijfsarts/

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