Hiring and firing staff in the Netherlands

The procedures for appointment and dismissal of staff are partially covered by the Civil Code of the Netherlands and partially clarified by the judicial system. It is relatively easy to employ staff, but it may prove tricky to dismiss employees.

Employment contracts under Dutch law

The Dutch law on employment does not require a contract in written form. However, it is advisable to conclude written contracts with your employees to avoid discussions about the arrangements. It is good to start your employment contract with definitions of the most significant conditions for work.

The written employment contract also allows both the employer and the employee to include particular clauses, for example regarding non-competition, trial period, company secrecy, working hours, salary, bonus regulation, holidays, pension scheme, terms of termination, etc.

The contract for employment can be prepared in a language other than Dutch or English, but in such case, there is a risk of misinterpretation. Therefore a contract in one of those two languages is preferable.

If the hired employee is living and working in Holland, then the applicable law would be the Dutch one. In special cases, however, where the individual works in two or more countries, the provisions may be different. The particular circumstances will be determined by the governing law. The parties may need to consider the legislation of different countries.

In the Netherlands, it is advisable for employers to draft their contracts according to the local Dutch laws. Otherwise, some conditions or arrangements may prove to be invalid.

Agreements for employment in the country can be concluded for a particular or indefinite time period. However, fixed-term and open-ended contracts are subject to specific legislative provisions. Furthermore, the law is continually changing and therefore the agreement for employment needs to be revised regularly.

Dismissal of staff in the Netherlands

It may prove difficult to fire an employee by reason of various legal provisions related to dismissal.

First of all, you should have reasonable arguments in support of your decision to end the employment agreement. The law in the Netherlands mentions eight possible reasons, including economic circumstances, underperformance, serious misconduct, sick leave with a duration of more than 2 years and frequent illnesses.

The employment contract can be terminated via different routes. The easiest approach is to conclude a termination agreement ending the employment with mutual consent. During this process, the two parties often enter negotiations. You can also terminate the employment agreement by asking the Agency for Insurance of Employees (or UWV) to issue a permit for dismissal. This is a possible solution only in case the employee has been on a sick leave for 2 years or more or the job has become redundant because of technical, economic or organizational reasons. The third possibility is to seek contract dissolution in court due to shortcomings such as underperformance.

The UWV and the Court would not permit termination of an employment agreement if there is a prohibition for dismissal (e.g. during sick leave or pregnancy).

In the Netherlands, the dismissal procedure is heavily regulated. We are prepared to assist you in understanding the rules and applying them in your best interest.

In case you have questions on the mentioned topics, our Dutch office will be happy to give you answers and provide you with the ins- and outs of the Dutch workforce.

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