Facing a dismissal from your job? This is what you need to know

Facing a dismissal from your job? This is what you need to know

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You are working in the Netherlands, but then you discover that your employer wants to terminate your employment contract. What then? What is your legal position? Can you oppose the dismissal? What about severance pay and unemployment benefits? De Ontslagspecialist (The Dismissal Expert) is an experienced employment law firm that can help you with these questions and more.

In the Netherlands, you cannot be fired or dismissed from a job just like that. An employer must always have a valid, legal reason.

Before an employer can formally dismiss you, they will have to ask a Dutch court or the UWV employment agency to evaluate these reasons and to grant permission. However, getting permission from these bodies can only happen under certain conditions.

Conditions for dismissal in the Netherlands

If an employer wishes to dismiss an employee in the Netherlands, the former must, for example, prove that one of the following conditions applies:

  • The employee is performing poorly despite a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
  • The function of the employee is cancelled (reorganisation), with no replacement function available.
  • The employee has seriously misbehaved.
  • The employee has been ill for more than two years.

Dismissal via a settlement agreement

Because it is often not easy to dismiss an employee through the courts or the UWV, many employers may try to reach a settlement agreement with the employee instead. In this agreement, also known as a termination agreement, both the employee and employer mutually agree to terminate the employment contract under certain conditions.

The contract terms to be agreed upon often consist of the following items:

  • The end date of the employment term
  • Severance pay
  • Unemployment benefits (WW-uitkering)
  • Potential legal fees
  • The period of time off from work to search for a new job

Keep in mind that employees are not obliged to accept the proposal offered by an employer. If an employee rejects the proposal, then they will remain employed with the company. The employer will have to start a formal proceeding to dismiss the employee.

Why hire a lawyer?

In the Netherlands, firing or dismissing an employee is not common and, in the rare cases that it does happen, the rules surrounding dismissal can be confusing. It is therefore advisable to seek help from a lawyer who is experienced with Dutch employment law, particularly one who specialises in dismissals.

What does an employment lawyer do?

If you are faced with dismissal in the Netherlands, the first step that an employment lawyer would take would be to check whether or not the employer has a valid reason for dismissing you.

If there isn't, then a lawyer can help you to keep your current employment contract or, if you prefer, they can negotiate a more favourable settlement agreement for you. This can look like improved terms for severance payment, unemployment benefit, exemption from work and positive references.

Even if your employer has a valid reason for dismissing you, for example in the event of a company being re-structured, then a lawyer can still come up with a more favourable dismissal arrangement for you.

Free legal aid often possible

If you end up hiring a lawyer to help with your settlement agreement, then you are responsible for paying the legal costs. However, Dutch employment lawyers can often arrange that the employer reimburses the costs of legal assistance.

Are you facing a dismissal from your company and require legal assistance? De Ontslagspecialist has more than 25 years of experience, specialising in job dismissals and obtaining reimbursements for legal costs. They have helped thousands of employees in the Netherlands with excellent results. Call +31 20 616 0120 or email their specialists.

Edwin van Jaarsveld


Edwin van Jaarsveld

Edwin van Jaarsveld graduated from the Vrije University of Amsterdam in Law. Edwin has now been practicing employment law and more specifically dismissal law for over 20 years. Edwin...

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