Employment expert investigation

Why and when to order an employment expert investigation

If an employee is absent for an extended period, there is a good chance you will end up talking to an employment expert. Among other things, they will conduct an employment expert investigation. But why and how? You can read our answers to these questions here.

What is an employment expert? 

The employment expert investigates the rehabilitation options for your employee. They do so based on the views of the doctor/company doctor, conversations with your employee and, in some cases, by examining the workplace.

The Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act does not explicitly refer to the investigation. But it does oblige you to investigate how you can best rehabilitate your employee (or instruct someone to do it for you). Usually, employers bring in an employment expert for this purpose.

Four questions which are covered in the employment expert investigation:

  1. Can the employee return to their existing job? If not:
  2. Does their existing work need to be modified? If this is not possible:
  3. Is there other work within the company that is more suitable (also known as track 1)? If there is not:
  4. Would work with a different company better match their capabilities (also known as track 2)?

What if I don't order an employment expert investigation?

In that case, you will need to continue paying the employee’s salary for at least one more year (wage sanction). The UWV will assess the rehabilitation efforts made by you and your employee as part of the WIA application. If you do not order an employment expert investigation, UWV may consider that this represents ‘insufficient rehabilitation efforts’.

When should you order an employment expert investigation?

If your employee cannot perform their own job, or not completely. Ideally, you should bring in the employment expert as early as possible, and in any event before the end of the first year of illness. That way, there will be sufficient time to fully explore all the employee’s possibilities. There are situations in which an employment expert investigation is not needed, or is in fact needed at an earlier stage:

Earlier employment expert investigation:

  • If it quickly becomes clear after the sickness notification that the employee will not be able to return to their existing job.
  • If a person is frequently absent for short periods. An employment expert will then identify which factors are playing a role in the absence, in order to prevent long-term absence.

No employment expert investigation:

  • If the employee’s illness is in its terminal phase.
  • If your employee has nearly recovered after the first year.
  • If the doctor/company doctor tells you it would not add any value. For example, if a medical intervention with a recovery period is scheduled. After the recovery period, you would then look again at whether an employment expert investigation is required. This situation always requires proper consultation between the doctor/company doctor, the employment expert and your personal contact. The doctor/company doctor will give you written feedback.  

How does an employment expert work?

The employment expert can give expert advice about your employee’s capabilities and limitations with regard to work. The employment expert works with the company doctor, with due regard for the privacy legislation and the code of conduct for employment experts. The employment expert will be in touch with the employee and the employer and where necessary will visit the workplace. The investigation report will set out the employment expert’s conclusions and advice about the required follow-up steps. The report is sent to both the employer and the employee. The cost of the employment expert investigation is borne by you as the employer.

After the employment expert investigation

After the investigation, there are three options:

  1. Your employee continues working for you, with modifications or in a different role (the so-called ‘track 1’).
  2. Your employee looks for work with a different employer (the so-called ‘track 2’).
  3. The principle is that your employee remains with you if possible (with modifications, or in a different role), but because they are currently not able to work for you, it is necessary to look for work with another employer (the so-called ‘twin track policy').

Track 1

If the recommendation is that your employee should remain with your company, your employee must accept this. This is because they are obliged to accept suitable work, unless accepting the work cannot be expected of them for physical, mental or social reasons. In that case, they must provide clear arguments to that effect. It is up to you to offer your employee suitable work. If you deviate from this obligation, you must provide sound reasons and set them out in an action plan. If you fail to do so, you risk a wage sanction (see WIA decision).

Track 2

If the recommendation is that your employee should look for work with a different employer, it is your responsibility to help your employee look for a suitable role. You can call in the help of a rehabilitation agency which helps people with a disability to find other (suitable) work. Your personal contact can tell you about different rehabilitation agencies. ArboNed is an occupational health & safety service and as such will no longer be involved in the practical matter of looking for work outside your company.

Twin track policy

You can initiate internal and external activities simultaneously: a twin track policy. We generally advise this if it is unclear whether long-term rehabilitation of your employee will be achieved or whether there is other permanent suitable work for your employee internally. In such a case, you and your employee look at the options in terms of their existing job or modified work within your company and also at opportunities for working for a different employer. Adopting a twin track policy means making good use of the rehabilitation time.

Do I always need to bring in a rehabilitation agency?

You are not required to hire a rehabilitation agency. However, UWV may judge this to represent ‘insufficient rehabilitation efforts’ as part of the WIA application (wage sanction). 

Would you like to know what ArboNed can do for you?

ArboNed conducts around 4,200 rehabilitation investigations every year. We also perform multidisciplinary checks. This involves an employment expert assessing whether the rehabilitation options are being fully utilised, as part of a team representing different disciplines (such as the company doctor, the staff welfare coach, the rehabilitation and prevention consultant and possibly the psychologist). ArboNed has all the disciplines in-house. Our employment experts also provide information and advice about company-wide rehabilitation issues.

Would you like to know what an employment expert can do for you? Please get in touch with your personal contact at ArboNed. You can find the contact details in the Vandaag online absence portal. Or contact our Sales Support department on 030 299 62 77 or salessupport@arboned.nl.