The Prison Gate (Gevangenpoort) The Hague

Terminating an employee

Do you have an employee you would like to dismiss? In the Netherlands, an employer cannot unilaterally end an employment agreement unless both parties have agreed upon a temporary contract which ends by operation of law.

Terminating an employment contract

If you have an employee on a permanent contract or you wish to end a temporary contract before it is scheduled to expire, you must either reach a settlement agreement with the employee or you must get permission to dismiss him or her. If grounds for dismissal are related to the employee, an employer will have to ask permission from the cantonal judge.

Poor performance

One of the most common grounds for dismissal is poor performance. And this is one of the most difficult reasons to prove. An employer must have a solid file to be able to convince a judge to dissolve an employment agreement.

This file should provide the following:

  • The employee is not suitable for the position. This can either be because the employee does not fulfill the position’s requirements or because the employee’s character does not match the requirements.
  • The unsuitability may not be the result of illness or disability.
  • The employee must be made aware of the employer’s point of view. The employer has to inform the employee in detail of the criticism.
  • The employee should then be given enough time to improve his or her performance. During that time the employer is obliged to discuss the employee’s improvements or lack thereof at regular intervals. Normally an improvement plan will take at the least 6 months and sometimes even up to a year.
  • The unsuitability may not be the consequence of too little schooling or training of the employee and may also not be caused by a lack of good working conditions.
  • The employee cannot be re-employed in another suitable position within the company.

A judge will only dissolve an unemployment agreement if all these conditions have been met.


If you or your company wishes to terminate an employee for any reason, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Update article: December 2017

Godelijn Boonman - Expat lawyer (employjment law)

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 has been a member of the advisory board of ACCESS and the Women’s Business Initiative International since its beginning.