Tag Archive for: Seliz Demirci

Performance Improvement Plan: 5 key points to consider

Termination of the employment agreement due to unsatisfactory performance is possible under Dutch employment law. You can only be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance if your employer has given you sufficient opportunity to improve your performance. This is also known as a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”).

Below are 5 key points you need to know before starting a PIP.

Are you obliged to cooperate with a PIP?

In general, yes. An employer has the right to assess the performance of employees and provide instructions on how to do develop and improve. That being said, the employer must be able to demonstrate that improvement is required. Usually, one or more negative performance evaluations precede the start of a process of improvement.

What exactly does a PIP look like?

The law does not describe what a good improvement plan should look like, but from the many rulings of judges on this point, you can say that a proper PIP meets the following requirements:

    • The PIP must be in writing and so must the interim evaluations;
    • It must contain concrete and measurable improvement areas;
    • The improvement areas must also be realistic and achievable;
    • The employer should actively support the employee during the PIP. What this support entails varies from case to case and may consist of ‘training on the job’ but also of offering training or a course. Involving a coach or mentor is also not unusual;
    • The PIP should be evaluated periodically in between. It is then discussed what went well or not (yet) well in the past period.

What is the duration of a PIP?

The law does not specify what the duration of a PIP should be. In case law, improvement processes of 3 months to 1 year are considered acceptable. The important thing is that the PIP is at least long enough to allow the employee to actually improve.

The following factors play a role in the length of a PIP:

  • The content and level of the position;
  • The employee’s level of education;
  • The nature and degree of the underperformance;
  • The duration of the employment;
  • Previous efforts made to improve performance;
  • The extent to which the employee is open to criticism and willing to engage during the PIP.

What can you do if you disagree with the progress of the PIP?

Record this, for example with an e-mail message. Let your employer know in the interim that you do not agree with the way the PIP is going and why.

Can you be dismissed if the PIP is not successfully completed?

This is indeed possible. However, it must then be clear that your employer has given you a realistic and serious chance to improve. You can also expect that your employer has offered the necessary support to make the improvement process a success. Moreover, your employer is obliged to investigate whether you can be redeployed to another suitable position within the company.

More information

Do you want more information about a Performance Improvement Plan? Or do you have any other legal question? Then please contact us directly. Our expert are happy to help you.

The employer’s duty of care

An employer has a duty of care. For instance, the employer has an obligation to protect the safety and health of his employees. In order to prevent employees from suffering damage during the performance of their duties, the employer must take measures. These measures include implementing a policy and giving safety instructions to employees.

With the advent of the #MeToo movement and anti-discrimination measures, the home-working policy during the Covid-19 pandemic and the growth of long COVID patients infected in the workplace, attention to the employer’s duty of care has increased. Employers are even more expected to ensure a safe working environment and atmosphere to prevent employees from suffering damages during work.

Seliz Demirci, employment lawyer at GMW lawyers discusses the content and scope of the employer’s duty of care in light of current topics.

Legal basis

Employers must prevent employees from suffering damage in the performance of their duties. Therefore, Dutch law stipulates that an employer must take the necessary measures. The concept of damage includes both physical and psychological damage. Psychological damage is particularly relevant in the context of sexual harassment. Does an employer breaches his duty of care? Then it is up to the employee to prove the existence of damage. He also has to prove that this damage arose in the performance of their duties. Did proven damage occur? Then the employer needs to prove their liability. The employer’s liability lapses if they demonstrate that they have fulfilled their duty of care. Is the employer not able to prove that they have taken the required measures for a safe working environment? Then they are liable. The bar for liability is therefore low.

(Sexual) harassment and discrimination

The law does not set specific conditions for fulfilling the duty of care. Whether the employer has fulfilled their duty of care will be judged on a case-by-case basis. The prevention of (sexual) harassment and discrimination in the workplace is important. Therefore, an employer may in any case be expected to appoint an (external) confidential advisor. He might also need to provide a complaints procedure. Not only does this enable the employer to demonstrate that they have fulfilled their duty of care, but the parties involved also know how to deal with a complaint. In addition, taking these measures can have both a repressive and a preventive effect.

The employer has not automatically fulfilled their duty of care merely by drawing up a complaints procedure and appointing a confidential adviser; more is expected of them. For instance, an employer has the obligation to respond adequately and in a timely manner to a complaint regarding sexual harassment or discrimination. He must take a complaint seriously and investigate it properly.

Working from home

The duty of care also extends to the home workplace, although the employer’s obligations are then more limited than those that apply within an office or factory. The employer must ensure that the employee has an ergonomically equipped workplace. This means providing a good and large enough desk, an adjustable desk chair, a properly adjusted monitor and associated aids. ‘Taking care of’ does not mean that the employer must purchase everything (new) for the employee, if the employee already has an ergonomically well-equipped workplace. The point is that the employer must establish whether and to what extent the employee has a good workplace at home.

Preventing burn-out

The employer also has the obligation to implement a policy that prevents the pressure of work from becoming too high and the employee from suffering burnout. Limiting the workload is part of this. This obligation also applies – and perhaps even more so – when working from home. Therefore, as an employer, ensure regular (team) consultation about work pressure and provide information about monitoring the balance between work and private life. It is also important for employees to raise the alarm in good time with their employer when the work pressure becomes too high.


When an employer has not fulfilled their duty of care towards their employees, they can be held liable. If that liability is established, the employee may claim compensation for material and immaterial damage suffered. An employment lawyer can explain your rights, risks and obligations, allowing you to make the best possible decisions.

More information on the employer’s duty of care

If you need to take legal action, our team of employment law experts can help you to work it out. Call us on 070 361 5048 or contact us via our easy online form.