Losing your job is a worst case scenario for many expats, especially if your job allows you to stay in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, should you have to face dismissal, you may be glad that you are in the Netherlands when it occurs, as you will start with strong legal rights.
The Dutch labour law system for dismissal is particularly unusual, as it is very protective of employees.
There are 5 ways that your employment can terminate under Dutch law:
When your fixed-term contract ends,
When you resign your job,
Via UVW/court dismissal,
Through a settlement agreement, or
Through summary dismissal.
If you are facing dismissal from work, consider getting legal advice before you make any agreements.
End of fixed-term contract
If you have a fixed-term (temporary) contract of employment, it will terminate automatically on the end date shown in your contract. Your employer does not have to give you notice beforehand and you do not have to give your employer notice either.
There is no further procedure to be followed; your employment simply terminates at the end of the fixed-term period. In case your employment contract was longer than 6 months, your employer is obliged to inform you ultimately a month before the end date about whether your employer intends to extend your contract or whether your employer will have it end.
Resigning from a job
Should you decide to resign your job during the term of your employment, you will need to give written notice of your intention to leave. You must take the notice period in your contract into account.
If you have a fixed-term (temporary) contract, then neither you nor your employer can end the employment earlier than the end date unless the contract includes a clause that provides for your earlier resignation and notice period. If your fixed-term contract has such a clause, submit your notice to resign accordingly. Always give notice in writing, via email or registered letter.
If you, as an employee, leave your position before the notice period ends or if you do not give a proper notice period to your employer, your employer may be able to hold you liable for damages.
UVW / court dismissal or settlement
An employer cannot terminate a permanent contract without your agreement. They also cannot terminate a temporary contract prior to its scheduled date of completion. Only the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) or the cantonal court can (give permission to) terminate an employment contract.
If an employer wishes to apply for termination of an employment contract through the UVW or court, they must have a valid ground for their request.
Due to how difficult it is to terminate an employment contract, an employer may instead offer you a settlement agreement. If you are offered a settlement agreement, it is wise to ask a lawyer to check the agreement before you sign it.
Summary dismissal is also called “being fired on the spot”. It is the harshest form of dismissal and is reserved for the most urgent cases. Think of situations such as when an employee is caught stealing, perpetrates fraud, threatens or assaults another person, becomes violent, or displays other serious misconduct.
If you are summarily dismissed, you will not receive unemployment benefits, the transitional allowance might be at risk as well, and your salary will stop immediately. As such, it will have serious consequences for your future.
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