As an expat, the most common reason to move to a new land is work – but which country will protect your rights in the workplace when you are there? Expat employment specialist Godelijn Boonman explains what makes the Netherlands a great choice for international workers.
This post was reviewed and updated on 23 September 2020
For anyone who has moved country to follow their career, the thought of losing that job due to dismissal is a nightmare. What you may not realise when choosing your new homeland is that the laws of the country you move to will determine your rights in the workplace.
How safe is my job in the Netherlands?
Employees enjoy very strong legal protection under Dutch law. In fact, an employee in the Netherlands with a permanent contract can only be dismissed with permission from either a judge or the UWV (Employees Insurance Agency), and for an employer to get that permission is not easy.
An employer needs to have reasonable grounds to dismiss someone. They also need to prove that they have tried to move the employee into another role in the company.
There are only 9 ways to lose your job in Holland
In the Netherlands, there are only 9 reasonable grounds that an employer can use to justify dismissing an employee on a permanent contract.
- Headcount reduction for business reasons (redundancy)
- Long-term disability (more than two years)
- Frequent and disruptive absence relating to sickness
- Incapacity to perform contracted work other than for a medical reason
- Serious misbehaviour
- Refusal to perform contractual duties for moral reasons (conscientious objections)
- A working relationship that has broken down so badly that the employer cannot reasonably be required to continue the relationship
- Other reasons such that it cannot reasonably be expected that the employer should continue the employment relationship.
- Combination of grounds c-h which, when combined, form a compelling case for dismissal.
If you are employed in the Netherlands and you are facing dismissal, then you would be wise to consult an employment law expert.
Learn more about termination and dismissal in the Netherlands. Get the new white paper: When to call a lawyer about work
This feature was originally published in ACCESS magazine
Godelijn experienced an international upbringing and education as an expat child living in Africa and England. Back in The Netherlands, she studied law at the University of Utrecht (1990). She then embarked on her legal career as a lawyer by working 10 years for the well-known law firm of ‘Wladimiroff en Spong Advocaten’. In 2000 she joined GMW lawyers as a partner and is the head of the Labour law and Pension section.
Godelijn specialises in international employment law and has extensive experience in dealing with both non-contentious and contentious international employment matters including (collective) redundancy packages and dismissal. She works for both companies and individual employees, enabling her to keep an open mind to both sides of a case. Naturally she helps her clients when a problem has arisen, but prefers to act before an escalation has taken place. Advice on a fair Human Resource policy is an essential part of her work.
Godelijn Boonman is considered to be the undoubted employment specialist for the expat community because she is bilingual, has a large international clientele and a wealth of experience in international employment law matters. She is therefore frequently asked to be the key note speaker at international seminars.
Godelijn has a keen interest in the international community and is a member of the advisory board of ACCESS .