Second-track reintegration? Stop fighting with your boss!
From first-hand experience, I know many employees on sick leave waste a lot of energy fighting with their employers. At the same time, I see employers are frustrated too. Communication and listening are often the magic words. Assumptions can disrupt communication. I’m well aware it’s easy for me as an outsider to judge. However, I also know what the negative effects of poor communication can be. Poor communication is often driven by fear and based on misunderstandings between employee and employer. Such a pity, so stressful and above all, totally pointless.
My advice? Stop the fight, without losing it. Here are four valuable tips to help you accomplish this.
1. Make sure you’re well informed, understand the rules
The Dutch ‘Gatekeeper Act’ (Wet Verbetering Poortwachter) sets out the regulations governing first- and second-track reintegration in the workforce, and it is relatively simple. Moreover, there are plenty of specialists (career coaches, lawyers) who can clarify any questions you might have. Clarity gives you peace of mind and prevents you from making mistakes.
The following are key items in this Dutch law, for the 12 months after you become (partially) incapacitated for work:
- The first track is internal reintegration (within the company) and the second track is external reintegration.
- Unless you are expected to fully recover within three months, your employer is obligated to offer you second-track career coaching.
- The second track always runs in parallel with the first track, so it doesn’t replace it. This may sound confusing, but that’s how it works. So take advantage of all the available opportunities, internally and externally. This is the best way to explore all possible ways to continue your career.
- Your employer is also obligated to search for internal (first-track) reintegration work for you. However, this reintegration work does not have to be a long-term, permanent position. So you still run the risk of being fired after two years.
- The purpose of the second track is to prepare you for a scenario in which your job is at risk. To prevent you becoming unemployed and at the very least to help you become the perfect job applicant.
So, the Wet Verbetering Poortwachter places certain obligations on your employer. But besides knowing your rights, it is also crucial to maintain a good relationship with your employer throughout the process.
2. Afraid of being fired? Make staying in touch a priority
I often see a lot of friction between employees on sick leave and their employers. Allowing a situation like this to continue, will not improve your position. That’s why I advise employees to start a conversation with their employer as soon as possible. Are you able to stay at the company? What job do you want or can you do? What requirements must you meet? Don't postpone this dialogue. Throughout your entire sick leave, perform as well as you can and keep in touch with your employer. That way, you’ll reduce the chance of dismissal.
3. Be smart and avoid unnecessary damage
If you want to stay with your current employer, be tactful. Winning on points always means losing the relationship. As an employee, you are given a job, it’s not something you can claim. In the long
run, a deteriorated relationship with the employer always works against you. Make tactfulness your preferred modus operandi in this context.
4. There are other fish in the sea – seriously explore alternatives
Even if you don't want to leave, exploring potential opportunities elsewhere will give you more self-confidence. After all, you can always say no. You’ll be surprised what else is available out there that could also make you happy. Don’t let tunnel vision limit your outlook. 'Fight' for a really great place to work. You never know, that might be outside of your current workplace.
These four tips are crucial for successfully completing a second-track trajectory. They can help you avoid unnecessarily damaging the relationship with your employer and that is ultimately in your own interest.
Good luck and get well soon!
If you’d like to get in touch, feel free to call, email or message/WhatsApp me at 06 - 47 16 39 42 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I always respond quickly, usually the same day. Or fill in the inquiry form. I look forward to hearing from you.