19 August 2020

Voluntary departure scheme? What you need to know

By Seliz Demirci

Due to the corona crisis, companies are critically examining their entire organisation.

Various multinationals have already announced that they will cut jobs to rebalance their accounts. For example, Shell has announced that it will offer a voluntary departure scheme to its personnel. Employment contracts for expats are also being revised and the company is recruiting fewer staff. For the time being, the selective departure scheme applies to employees with the Netherlands, the United Kingdom or Canada as their home base.

What does a voluntary departure scheme mean?

If jobs are lost, an employer can request dismissal from the UWV on the grounds of business economic reasons (redundancy). Alternatively, the employer can also offer a voluntary departure scheme to selected employees. The content of such a departure scheme has often been agreed in advance with the unions or the works council. Employees who are offered a departure scheme can decide for themselves whether to leave or to wait for a possible dismissal procedure. A departure scheme is usually offered in combination with a termination fee that you, as an employee, receive. However, such a scheme may also consist of a supplement to a salary or a benefit to be earned elsewhere.

What should you pay attention to when you are offered a departure scheme?

A departure scheme may be attractive to employees who are ready for a change of employer or expect to become redundant in the short term. The termination compensation is usually well above the transition compensation (the financial compensation that the employer must pay upon dismissal). In addition, the employee is often released from work until the proposed end date of employment. This provides the employee with time to look for a new job.

A departure scheme, on the other hand, is less interesting for employees who are in a poor working position and who have to work for years to come. Although the compensation offered may seem attractive, it is important to take into account that finding a new permanent job can take time.

For expats whose residence permit is dependent on their employment, it is important that their residence permit does not expire. For those who enjoy the 30% facility, it is also important to ensure that they will be able to continue using this. These aspects are sometimes overlooked by employees.


A voluntary departure scheme can be interesting, but it is very important to make the necessary considerations. These considerations relate, for example, to labour market opportunities and the scope that the severance payment provides on top of unemployment benefit or another source of income. It is also important for expats that the scheme takes into account their residence permit and use of the 30% scheme. Also take a good look at the proposed end date, the offered termination compensation and whether you can claim this compensation if you have another job.

It is advisable to seek legal advice about a voluntary departure scheme. Usually, the departure scheme also includes a contribution towards the costs.

Get help you can trust

If you are offered a voluntary departure scheme or if you are facing dismissal, good legal advice can help you achieve the best possible outcome.

GMW lawyers’ employment lawyers have thorough knowledge of and experience in the severance packages that Shell offers its employees. We are happy to advise you on the points of interest for you based on your personal circumstances.

The content of the announced voluntary severance scheme is not yet known. We will discuss the details of this in a future blog as soon as possible.

If you need advice or assistance, please contact us; we can work it out.

Seliz Demirci

Seliz Demirci


Within the Employment & Pension law section, Seliz advises national and international employers and employees on various employment law issues.

Related blogs

16 April 2024

Controversy about the non-compete clause

The non-compete clause is not ‘set in stone’. In practice we see many conflicts and proceedings about the non-compete clause, especially in the current tight labour market.

Read more

3 April 2024

Suspend or discontinue the salary?

In the event of occupational disability, an employee is entitled to continued payment of their salary for 104 weeks. During this period, both the employer and the employee have rehabilitation obligations.

Read more

26 March 2024

Loss of pension

It is common for an employer and employee to terminate an employment contract by entering into a settlement agreement.

Read more