26 June 2024

Do you require assistance with an employment dispute?

By Anja Blijham

Are you currently facing or anticipating an employment conflict? Employment conflicts can emerge in any workplace. Typically, such disputes can be resolved amicably.

However, this may not always be achievable. Conflicts between employees and employers can escalate, leading to a negative work environment where productivity is affected. In some cases, the employer may even cease payment of your salary.

Labor dispute

A labor dispute occurs when an employer and an employee are in disagreement. This can involve various subjects. If the situation escalates, it is soon labeled as a conflict. In such instances, the disagreements persist, problems remain unresolved, and employees may even become unfit for work. Conflicts can emerge in any work setting, due to for example collaboration methods or specific responsibilities, leading to disagreements. Additionally, conflicts may also arise from relationships with colleagues or discrimination.

Examples of situations that can result in a labor conflict include:

  • Reintegration into the own position is not progressing as desired;
  • Refusal to follow a reasonable instruction from the employer;
  • Stiff communication between employer and employee regarding an improvement plan;
  • Differing views on the job responsibilities of the employee;
  • Ongoing disagreement about job classification;
  • Dispute over the advice provided by the company doctor.

Rights and Responsibilities

What steps should you take when confronted with a labor dispute? And what rights and obligations does the employee have?

Employers are expected to assume a significant responsibility in preventing and resolving conflicts. Similarly, employees are obligated to adhere to reasonable instructions from the employer. By law, employees are required to act as good employees.

In the case of a conflict, the primary advice is to engage in a dialogue with your employer. Sometimes, effective communication is sufficient to reach a resolution together. If communication with your employer deteriorates, seek assistance from a third party. This could involve consulting with an HR representative or a confidential advisor. Mediation is also an available option. A mediator remains impartial and assists in facilitating a mutual resolution between the employee and the employer.

Moreover, it is essential to maintain all relevant information and communication regarding the conflict, including emails and records of conversations with the employer.

Sick leave

A labour dispute can result in you being (temporarily) unable to work. In that case, make sure you report sick according to your employer’s procedures. The company doctor will then be involved. Only the company doctor, not the employer (nor the general practitioner), determines if an employee is unfit for work due to illness. It is important for an employee to follow the advice of the company doctor. In case of a labour dispute, a company doctor often also advises mediation.

In the event of a prolonged conflict, the relationship between the employer and the employee can become severely strained. This may escalate to the point where the employer ultimately decides to dismiss the employee. Fortunately, this is not easily allowed. The employer must make an effort to resolve the dispute before resorting to dismissal. Mediation can often be beneficial in such situations. Ultimately, it’s the judge who decides whether an employee can be dismissed.

More information

When facing an (impending) labor dispute, communicate with your employer. Many problems can be resolved through dialogue. Do you require assistance or guidance in an (impending) labor dispute? Or is your employer threatening with dismissal? Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Anja Blijham

Anja Blijham

Advocaat

Anja Blijham is an all-round employment law specialist, who assists her clients with advice and in proceedings.

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