Reintegration challenges during COVID-19

24 November 2020 – Yvette Kouwenberg

Gatekeeper Improvement Act

The Gatekeeper Improvement Act requires you to reintegrate an employee who is incapacitated for work due to illness. COVID-19 does not alter this, however it may cause you to face certain challenges during the reintegration process. For instance, how to reintegrate a sick employee when your business is closed as a result of governmental COVID-19 measures, such is the case in the hospitality industry? Particularly taking in mind that UWV can impose a wage sanction if UWV would deem the reintegration efforts as insufficiently after two years of illness.


Fortunately, the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) can relate to the impact COVID-19 may have on the reintegration process. To that end, UWV has drawn up an addendum {link to } in addition to the existing ´gatekeeper manual´. Please be referred to the below most relevant topics of the addendum.


COVID-19 as such is principally not an excuse for an incomplete reintegration file, seeing that information can also be exchanged digitally and a physical signature is not required. If due to COVID-19, you might unexpectedly not have all the required documents in order, please inform and substantiate this towards UWV.

In principle, the reviews from the company doctor or Arbo doctor are considered leading. If sufficiently plausible, they are adopted by the UWV. If necessary, the insurance physician from UWV may collect additional information through a telephone consultation.

UWV has specified several situations which by reason of COVID-19 could be considered due cause for stagnation in the reintegration process. Examples are:

  • Compulsory business closure by reason of COVID-19 as a result of which the employee cannot effectively reintegrate in his own work or adapted work at his own employer;
  • Or a drop in work or inability to organize adequate support by reason of an imposed corona measure;
  • Also if elements of the so-called `2nd reintegration route´ (reintegration outside the organisation of the employer) cannot be executed properly due to COVID-19, e.g. upon business closure of the new employer or not having sufficient digital skills for remote monitoring

The UWV also has given several examples which do not involve due cause for stagnation of the reintegration due to COVID-19, such as:

  • If reintegration possibilities within the employer´s organisation have not been reviewed properly, whereas such study could also be made remotely according to UWV;
  • If an employer cannot meet his payment obligations due to COVID-19, this does not automatically bring about a viable excuse for (a lack of) the reintegration efforts as there are several governmental support packages available for companies that are in financial distress due to COVID-19.

Please be advised to inform and substantiate towards UWV that and why specific reintegration activities could not be carried out (in full) by reason of the corona virus.

See to review the problem analysis and action plan, if the working capacity of the employee has changed, respectlvely the reintegration activities to be carried out have altered due to COVID-19.

Take into consideration to apply for a second opinion in order to have reintegration efforts reviewed during the course of the reintegration proces.

In case UWV would already have imposed a salary sanction, please take in mind to apply for a reduction of the salary sanction (´bekortingsverzoek´) if you believe that the default in the reintegration process cannot be remedied as a result of COVID-19.  Upon filing your request, please state and substantiate the reasons why and the period during which the reintegration stagnated towards UWV. UWV will then decide whether the salary sanction could be ceased in all reasonableness

Yvette Kouwenberg