Dilemma in education: public or private WGA insurance?

Discover

Erik Wijnstok likes the dynamic aspect of his workplace. He only needs to walk out of his office to see who he’s doing it all for: the teachers and pupils at five schools which together constitute the interconfessional school organisation Het Baken in Almere. In this world of knowledge transfer and development, Wijnstok’s role is Director of Operations, and he is delighted to work in partnership with Raetsheren.

Taken together, the five schools Stad College (vmbo/preparatory secondary vocational education), Poort (havo/senior general secondary education, mavo/junior general secondary education), Park Lyceum (mavo, havo and atheneum/pre-university education), Trinitas Gymnasium (pre-university education) and the International School Almere have 2,750 pupils, 300 staff and a turnover of 25 million euros. It’s Wijnstok’s job to keep the business running and assess how its always scarce resources can be allocated as efficiently as possible. When subjects require specialist knowledge, he likes to engage experts to deal with them.

Erik Wijnstok: “I’m an accountant. That experience serves me well when we’re drawing up financial statements. But when I see all the things that change each year in the field of employee insurance schemes and liability, I’m happy to have an external partner like Raetsheren to take the work out of my hands. Each year we sit down with Raetsheren for an update on the risks that we face. This way, we keep a close eye on the risks that we’re exposed to, about whether we may be overinsured or underinsured following changes in legislation, and what we can do ourselves to limit the risks.”

Henk Rootjes is part of the Raetsheren team of specialists on Employee Benefits. He has a great deal of experience in the field of education and is the point of contact for Erik Wijnstok. It was Henk who pointed out to Het Baken that an employer is not obliged to take out public insurance against the consequences of the Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act, known in Dutch as the “WIA”.

Henk Rootjes: “If an employee becomes ill, the school is obliged to continue to pay their wages for two years and to pay for any reintegration costs.

If an employee is sick for longer than two years, the school also runs the risk of a ten-year liability to cover their benefit under the WGA regulations, on the return to work of partially disabled persons. So an employee’s incapacity for work could have an impact on an employer for 12 years. The employer is obliged to take out insurance against this risk. That can be done collectively, in which case the employer will receive a Return to Work Fund Decision (known in Dutch as a “Whk-beschikking”). The amounts involved are substantial, so it makes sense to consider whether private insurance may be cheaper.”

Once the available options had been examined, it was up to Het Baken to make the decision. Erik Wijnstok: “We decided within the organisation that we should open it up to a tendering process. Then we handed it over to Raetsheren. They know the market and know which parties are the best fit for us. It’s about both price and quality, the support that an insurer provides in tackling sickness absence. Schools are obliged to follow the European public tendering process. It’s very complicated, but Raetsheren took all of that work out of our hands too. This goes for the timing of the process as well. There are only two points during the year at which you can terminate your insurance with the Employee Insurance Agency, the UWV, and you don’t want to end up being uninsured or double insured in the meantime.”

The whole process took three months, and Erik Wijnstok is more than satisfied with the results: “It has saved us a great deal of money. And we’ll put that money back into education. After all, that’s what our work is all about.”