Dutch employment law has changed in 2020. With the introduction of a new act, the grounds for dismissal in the Netherlands have expanded. Here’s what you need to know.
With effect from 1 January 2020, Dutch employment law will be partially adjusted due to the Balanced Labour Market Act (“Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans”, hereafter WAB). If you are living and working in the Netherlands, then this change may affect your rights as an employee.
If you have a temporary employment contract
If your contract has an end date, then it is for a fixed period. In other words, it is a temporary employment contract. The introduction of the WAB means no change for your dismissal rights. Your employment can only be terminated according to Dutch temporary employment law.
The WAB will bring you two important changes:
- The maximum number of consecutive temporary employment contracts has changed. With effect from 1 January 2020, a maximum of three consecutive contracts is allowed.
- From January 1, 2020, employers will (in general) have to pay transitional compensation at the end of an employment contract that has lasted less than 24 months.
If you have a permanent employment contract
If your contract has no end date (Dutch: “voor onbepaalde tijd”), then it is a permanent employment contract and the grounds for dismissal have changed with effect from 1 January 2020. From this date onward, an employer can dismiss you from permanent employment using a new ground: the so-called “i-ground”.
Until now, there were only 8 reasonable grounds for dismissal in the Netherlands. These 8 grounds could not be combined; an employer had to fully meet the requirements. From 1 January 2020, the new “i-ground” allows an employer to combine certain grounds for dismissal to make a cumulative case to end a permanent employment contract.
If your employment is terminated according to the “i-ground”, be aware that you may have the right to a higher transitional compensation.
Grounds for dismissal in 2020:
a) Headcount reduction for business reasons (redundancy)
b) Long-term disability (more than two years)
c) Frequent and disruptive absence relating to sickness
d) Incapacity to perform contracted work other than for a medical reason (e.g.: poor performance)
e) Serious misbehaviour
f) Refusal to perform contractual duties for moral reasons (conscientious objections)
g) A working relationship that has broken down so badly that the employer cannot reasonably be required to continue the relationship
h) Other reasons such that it cannot reasonably be expected that the employer should continue the employment relationship (such as detention or difference of opinion between directors and shareholders)
i) Combination of grounds c-h which, when combined, form a compelling case for dismissal.
Other ways to lose your job
There are other ways that your employment could terminate, such as dismissal by mutual consent (settlement agreement), the natural ending of your fixed-term contract, resignation by notice (quitting your job), or being fired on the spot (summary dismissal).
If you are dismissed for any of these reasons, or you are threatened with dismissal, seek legal advice as soon as possible. Dutch law protects your rights as an employee, but you will need to act quickly to achieve the best outcome. For example, if you accept a settlement agreement, you have 14 days in which to reconsider it.
There are also specific circumstances in which employees are “protected” from dismissal, such as during maternity leave or sickness. If you are dismissed while you are on maternity leave or during the first 2 years of illness, contact a lawyer immediately. You have up to 2 months to challenge the validity of the dismissal.
Get help with Dutch employment law
If you need help or advice about a dismissal, please call us on 070 3615048 or submit your question online. Our employment law experts can assist you in English.
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 .