Are you working from abroad and is Dutch law gobbledegook to you? Do you have questions regarding employment law here in the Netherlands? Let me give you an introduction in Dutch law.

Getting fired

The Dutch law protects employees against dismissal. Your employer has to have a very good ground to let you go. Afraid of being dismissed because you made a mistake? Because you do not get along with the new manager? Because you often call in sick? Don’t be! There are only a limited amount of grounds on which your employer can base your dismissal and these grounds are limited by law.

There are five ways in which a labour contract can come to an end.

  1. Expiry of a fixed term contract;
  2. Resignation of the employee;
  3. Agreement to terminate by the employer and employee (and usually by agreeing on a severance pay);
  4. Dismissal during a probationary period;
  1. Dissolution of the contract by court or UWV and in that case your employer has to have a ground for dismissal that needs to be proven and the company needs to pay a transitievergoeding, a fixed amount of severance pay. Is there no ground to dismiss you? The contract will not be dissolute by court.

To dismiss an employee is not as easy as it sounds. In other countries employees are far less taken care of. Employees are extremely well protected under the Dutch law.

Illness and your boss

In the Netherlands you do not have the obligation to explain why you called in sick. Just call in sick in accordance with the office regulations and that is it.

Often your employer wants to know more and starts asking questions. Why are you sick? What is wrong? If your boss or your colleague at Human Resources are questioning your absence, you can ask for an Arbo-arts or ask for the Bedrijfsarts, the company doctor. That is a Health & Safety medical practitioner. Every employer has the obligation to hire one and he has to act if the situation occurs. It is not even relevant if your employer has a small company with just two employees.

Health & Safety medical practitioner

You can tell the bedrijfsarts or Arbo-arts everything you would like to say about your absence and its cause. This doctor has professional confidentiality, so your medical status will not be subject of conversations with your boss. The Arbo-arts will just inform your boss about the fact that you are unable to work or in what way you are able to work and he will give an estimation how long you will be absent from work. And that is sufficient.

Absent due to pregnancy? Believe it or not: officially you do not have to tell anything until three weeks before the pregnancy leave starts. The questions is whether this is wise. If you tell your boss (maybe via the Arbo-arts) about your condition, together you can reorganise your work environment in a way that it is safe for you and your unborn baby.

 Illness and your labour contract

Feeling sick and are you afraid you will get fired if you call in sick? Don’t be! In the Netherlands employees are protected, regardless the fact that you are not a native citizen. It is even prohibited by law to dismiss an employer who is unfit for work.

Still not reassured? Are you in a situation that you might lose your job? Is your company being reorganised? Do not hesitate to call Juriste Punt. I look very much forward to assisting you in the matter at hand.

Author S.B. Punt, legal advisor at Juriste Punt

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