The new normal – legally speaking
So much has changed in our day-to-day lives since “corona” became part of our vocabulary that it’s easy to believe that everything is different. So has this crisis fundamentally changed your legal rights in the Netherlands? Our legal experts summarise what you need to know.
The more things change…
The more they stay the same. You’ll be pleased to know that the crisis has not greatly changed your overall rights or your (strong) protection under Dutch law.
What has changed is some of the detail surrounding how those rights are exercised.
The Dutch courts have continued to function and still are accepting applications for divorce, the division of assets, disputes related to the children, child- and spousal maintenance, etc. The result of the crisis may be that the previously established contribution can no longer be paid. The crisis has not automatically changed existing maintenance obligations or agreements. Changes must still be negotiated and agreed. If the parties cannot reach a settlement, the court can rule.
Evictions were postponed during the crisis (except for extreme cases) and tenants and landlords enjoyed a temporary option to extend a fixed-term lease without it becoming an indefinite lease (now expired). Overall, the corona crisis has not changed landlord, tenant or owner rights and obligations.
The emergency bridging funding (NOW 1 and NOW 2) helped businesses pay wage costs and avoid reorganisation. From October 1st, the terms of the subsidy under NOW 3 will change, and companies would do well to reconsider their future viability. There are several legal options to avoid bankruptcy, from refinancing to reorganisation and creditor agreements.
The IND has continued to process applications and renewals, and has shown more understanding for internationals whose residence is affected by travel restrictions – however the terms of residence are unchanged.
The employer’s duty of care now includes corona-rules, which leads to (many) new workplace policies and processes. Some of these must be reflected in the employment conditions and contracts.
Also in 2020, changes to employment law (Wet arbeidsmarkt in balans or WAB) meant a ninth ground for dismissal, transition allowance from the first day, and an increased maximum of three consecutive fixed-term contracts.
Further information about the WAB and changes to dismissal law is available here.
The Dutch system for supplemental employer-provided pension plans will be fundamentally reformed in the coming years. Legislation, including consequences for the employment relationship, will be presented before the end of this year. Due to the WAB, payroll and on-call employees now enjoy equalised terms of employment. From 1 January 2021, this will further include an adequate pension.
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This article was first published in ACCESS magazine.
Legal Expat Desk is an information hub that provides the expat community in The Netherlands with information about Dutch law and advice from legal experts. As an independent advisory service, we are able to offer multiple perspectives that help you to strengthen your legal position.