Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Netherlands in violation of international convention on work incapacity

The UN is highly critical of the Netherlands over the effect of its Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act (WIA). Contrary to agreements, workers who are less than 35% incapacitated for work receive no benefits and the income of their partner is taken into account when they apply for welfare benefits. The law penalises someone with a lower income more than someone with a higher income. How is that possible?

Welfare level

The consequences are serious for care workers with long covid for example. After having been ill for two years, they have to register with the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) to apply for WIA benefit. In recent months, Dutch current affairs TV programme Zembla spoke to dozens of care workers. It now appears that care workers on a high income, such as doctors, are entitled to WIA benefit, but those on a lower income, such as caregivers, are often not entitled to the benefit. Work-disabled persons on a lower income then soon find themselves on welfare level due to effect of the WIA.

Deep concerns

Paul van der Heijden, professor emeritus in international labour law in Leiden who in the past has also held various positions within the International Labour Organization in Geneva, explains to Zembla that the ‘deep concerns’ expressed by the UN in its report of February 2023 constitute ‘the strictest standard it can use. It is also used in relation to Uighurs in China or concerning child labour in Congo. So that terminology is now also used for the Netherlands in relation to the WIA.’

This website uses cookies.  More information.