I work in the Netherlands in a big company.

I've been suffering from depression for a long time now.

My employer doesn't now about it. I keep it secrets. I am performing very well at my company but I just hate myself.

I am afraid that if I state that to my employer, they will reduce my compensations. I know that legally they can't affect my salary, but we also have bonus and the 13th month extra.

My employer has an in-house doctor. Should I tell my employer? what negative impact will that have?

Any suggestion?

  • 7
    @JoeStrazzere Because he has depression, and that’s what happens to people with that condition. It’s not just feeling sad a lot.
    – nick012000
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 3:28
  • We live in the Netherlands and my wife went through a medical issue (a very serious physical problem) for more than a year. She didn't hide it, she told it to the company and they requested a visit from the company doctor, which was even surprised she didn't complain earlier. Long story short, after that year of visits, days off and so on, not only she kept her compensation and bonus, but her contract was switched to fully remote.
    – ChatterOne
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 20:52

6 Answers 6


If you have a depression, you should get help. It's difficult to deal with on your own, but experts can provide a lot of help.

But I wouldn't go to the company doctor for that. The first place for health concerns in the Netherlands is always your own GP (huisarts). They are able to give you referrals to any other specialists you may need, and get it covered by your insurance.

I don't think you're likely to get less compensation at work if you admit to a depression, since as you say you do your job well. (Also it would probably be illegal.) But they'd be perhaps hesitant to give you a promotion, because they won't be sure you will be able to handle the extra pressure. So that's a reason not to bring it up at work.

What are you trying to accomplish by bringing it up with your employer? If you need some kind of help, like a change of responsibilities, then I would first have a talk with your GP and they can help you put that request in the right way.

TL;DR - get help from your GP, not from the company

  • i disagree, OP should go to company
    – bharal
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 20:52
  • 3
    @bharal ObscureOwl has knowledge of local laws/customs which seems useful Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 0:27
  • 1
    @bharal in the Netherlands your employer has no legal reason to know anything about your medical condition at all. OP should visit their GP for a note to send him/her to the local POH-GGZ who will then triage and if needed help with selecting psychologists or psychiatrists for further treatment.
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 5:49
  • (Also it would probably be illegal.) -> it is - Also, there's insurance to cover this, mandatory for employers to have. You could even get one of these yourself ("Hypotheek verstrekkers" demand this when you get a mortgage), and in my opinion worth it. Employer's one covers 70% of salary by law (after 3 months I think,could be 6), for a 2 year period, after which it gets done by government pay-out. They can have additional one to cover 100% of salary. You yourself can get one to cover the 30% difference at a cost of less than E5,- a month (easily worth it, just in case).
    – rkeet
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 8:59
  • @jwenting: The GP formally can't tell the employer that the employee needs time off, that's up to the "Arbo arts" (company doctor). Doesn't mean I disagree with the advice. Your health comes first - see the GP for that. The company can wait for that.
    – MSalters
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 11:35

There's answers already here, but some seem to disregard systems and laws in place in The Netherlands, so I'll give it a shot.

First up, you're not required to tell your work anything, unless you're taking regular time off for medical reasons. Medical reasons could be seeing a doctor, picking up prescriptions, seeing a psychiatrist, anything.

If/when you're taking (needing!) regular time off, then you may have to discuss your situation with the in-house doctor. Would also advise this, just to have someone close that's aware of what you're going through, but that's me.

Things to look at:

First up, bit of legal crap. If you're worried about legal repurcussions, like quoted below, you should:

  • Contact Juridisch loket for advise (free)
  • Check, or make sure to get, "Rechtsbijstandsverzekering arbeidsgeschild" - which is an insurance covering any legal costs if/when you have a legal conflict with your employer (let's hope it doesn't come to that, but the wait time until you can use this insurance is usually 3 months, so get it if you haven't - about E10,- a month, depending on coverage, provider and "own risk")

I am afraid that if I state that to my employer, they will reduce my compensations. I know that legally they can't affect my salary, but we also have bonus and the 13th month extra.

About that, the law is that an employer must have an insurance to cover 70% of your salary if absent for extended periods of time. Some bump that to 100% with an additional insurance. You can also get this 30% covered yourself (costs < E5,- a month). An employer is bound by law to pay your 70% of your salary for 2 years if you get sick that long. More info

Next, the health things.

Go see your own GP ("huisarts"). They will refer you to whomever you need. That way the cost is covered by insurance. Check with your health insurance how much of what is covered though (e.g. 20 sessions with psychiatrist).

If/when you're diagnosed as depressed and need to see a psychiatrist, you may wish to inform the in-house doctor to contact your GP/doctor or psychiatrist. That way, the in-house doctor may vouch to management/HR that you need regularly scheduled time off for medical reasons (you need not tell them why and the in-house doctor is bound by law that (s)he may not divulge this either, not even to their employer).

About your salary:

You have this black on white, written, slam-dunked as a contract. No worries there. Come renewal time they most likely will not reduce your salary and of course you may always negotiate yourself. Don't know what the law is when it comes to a new contract though, that you should check yourself (ask Juridisch Loket for example).

Is the 13th month also contractually written down? Or is along the lines of "added to contract house-rules" where it's mentioned as something of a "performance based reward". If part of the employment contract: no worries. If a performance bonus, then you may wish to discuss (after above things like seeing a doctor/psychiatrist and other options of outside help) your situation a bit, only to the extend your comfortable with.

So, lots of info.

Maar kerel, succes en beterschap.


Unless it directly affects your professional work, your employer has no need to know the details.

Contact your family doctor, talk to him or her. (S)he will likely send you on to the POH-GGZ or directly to a psychologist for more detailed diagnosis and initial treatment, which will likely get you one or more sessions with a psychiatrist as well if medication is deemed required.

I've gone through that process (yes, I'm in the Netherlands), and they'll generally be able to slot you in early in the morning or late in the afternoon so the impact on your job is minimised. If asked why you're taking regular short leave to visit doctors, you can tell them you're seeing a psychologist for personal issues and that's all you need to tell your employer.

Of course if your job is such that you taking anti-depressants or having mental health issues affects your ability to perform your work (for example as a pilot you're not allowed to use them and continue flying, a security guard probably isn't allowed contractually to have mental health issues either) the situation changes and you are required to inform your managers and/or human resources of your condition so they can reassign you to other duties you are legal to perform.

Expect the total process of diagnosis and treatment to last several months at least, but with professional help it's quite likely you'll be able to live a pretty normal life with depression (by now I have to be careful not to watch some movies or listen to dark, moody, music, but that's about the limit of it for me).

  • you can tell them you're seeing [..] X or Y -> not needed, you can limit it to "medical advice/treatment". As soon as you say "psychiatrist" rumors start (just the way it is). Then again, if you're taking regular time off, this could be a thing that's needed (a bit more explanation to the right person; in-house doctor, manager, etc.)
    – rkeet
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 9:03

Yes, you could tell your in-house doctor, and if you think there is valid reason, you should tell your employer.

By "valid reason" I mean if your depression warrants time off/sick leave or anything like that. While it is popular to say that companies are heartless institutions, I've not really found this the case when you are a full time employee at one.

Especially if you are performing well, I find it is always beneficial to discuss problems that affect your work. Most people (thankfully) are not psycopaths, most people are actually quite kind and nice (see: civilization not currently burning down outside), and will want to help.

I'm not sure the value of just saying "i'm depressed", as that doesn't really give anyone anything to do. But if your therapist/current GP thinks you need time off, then telling your company "my doctor says I need time off to deal with depression" is the right thing to do.

I'm never sure what the in-house medic is for, you can always drop by and ask them what they're there for - that you have an in-house medic implies you work for a large bank/telco or the like. I'll assure you that they are not there to spy on you - that definitely breaks all sorts of ethics/legal guidelines, especially in Europe.

So you don't need to go to the in-house doctor, if you have your own GP you like then by all means see them. If you end up needing time off (or if your depression is tied to work in some way that can be resolved by changes at work) then you should discuss with work.

(it's a little different if you're a contractor at a company, because then everyone seems to get off thinking you're very disposable, so it is more dependent on your relationship with your manager).

  • Thanks for your answer. I don't have a good relationship with my manager. Does that change your answer? I have a full-time contract. Do you think If I get an advice from my GP, the employer will give me time off? without stating the reason of depression.
    – Depo Lepo
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:20
  • @DepoLepo you say you're performing "very well" - why do you think that is true? Why do you say you don't have a good relationship with your manager? Seems counter to performing very well, hence both questions.
    – bharal
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:40
  • I am doing well because I received a good evaluation for the year. It is probably not that I have a bad relationship with my manager. maybe it is not the best relationship, but we have team dynamics problems, that I think my manager blames me for that.
    – Depo Lepo
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:43
  • @DepoLepo then it doesn't change my answer, no. I think it would be better to let your employer know of your condition if your GP recommends time off. More so if you you yourself think that youmight be causing team problems. If your GP doesn't recommend time off - then you'd be best placed to get a second opinion.
    – bharal
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:52
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    @DepoLepo Are you certain that you have a bad relationship with your manager, or is that your depression talking?
    – nick012000
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 3:30

There is nothing useful that will come from telling your employer unless your job is in immediate danger. Even then I would be very careful about who you tell and what you expect in return. Think about the long term effects, if/when you recover will it have weakened your position or made things awkward at work?

I've been through it and did tell my immediate line manager. This was over a year ago and now that things are much better for me I wish I hadn't, I can't help think about that day every time I see him.

If you need help then absolutely get help. But your employer is not your friend or your doctor.


I'd strongly encourage you to get treatment if you haven't yet. There are numerous options for treatment, many of which are highly effective. I would encourage you to seek help from a psychiatrist rather than a GP, though, because they are better equipped to handle that kind of condition. (If it's been awhile since you had a physical, you may still want to see a GP to see if there are any other medical conditions that might be contributing, though; if you have other conditions like chronic pain, heart disease, or sleep disorders they can absolutely contribute).

A therapist could also be very helpful. For example, there's no reason you should hate yourself (whether you tell your employer about this or not); rather than assuming that telling your employer about this would help, I'd encourage you to work on your self-esteem instead. A good therapist can help a lot with that. There are also some excellent books and workbooks out there that can help you too. I particularly recommend Dr. David Burns's books; they can help you view yourself and your circumstances more positively, which will help a lot.

In terms of telling your employer, I don't really see much of an upside to this unless it's harming your performance or you need a lot of time off for some reason. Try not to think of this as keeping secrets; it's perfectly normal not to tell everyone everything about you.

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