1. What types of employment contract are recognised in the Netherlands?
The following types of employment contract are recognised in the Netherlands:
- an employment contract of indefinite duration;
- a fixed-term contract;
- an on-call contract;
- a temporary employment contract; and
- an apprenticeship/employment contract.
2. What are the minimum and maximum terms for which a fixed-term employment contract can be concluded in the Netherlands?
No minimum term applies to fixed-term employment contracts.
There is a legal maximum of three fixed-term contracts for a total duration of two years. This will be extended to a maximum of three years from 2020.
Exceptions may be made by collective labour agreement.
3. How can a contract of employment be terminated in the Netherlands?
A labour contract may be terminated:
- by mutual consent via a settlement agreement;
- through dissolution by the subdistrict court;
- by notice of termination after a dismissal permit has been obtained from the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency);
- by operation of law in the case of a fixed-term contract; or
- by summary dismissal.
4. What are the applicable notice periods, and what determines their length?
The statutory notice period is at least one month and at most four months for employers, depending on the duration of the employment contract:
- one month is required in case of an employment relationship up to five years;
- two months for five to 10 years;
- three months for 10 to 15 years; and
- four months for longer than 15 years.
The statutory notice period for employees is one month.
Deviation from these statutory notice periods is possible in the employment contract, as long as the notice period for the employer is at least twice as long as the notice period for the employee.
5. Is it possible to employ employees as teleworkers in the Netherlands, and are there any particular regulations that apply (differentiating from other regulations)?
It is increasingly common for employees to work from home via an internet connection with access to the office network.
There is no right to teleworking, but the Flexible Working Act ensures that the threshold for employers to prohibit teleworking is relatively high.
6. What are the rights for women who become pregnant during their employment contract, and are they protected from being dismissed?
Women are entitled to six weeks pregnancy leave and at least 10 weeks maternity leave. They are entitled to at least 16 weeks’ leave.
There is an absolute prohibition of termination during pregnancy until six weeks after the end of the maternity leave, regardless of the duration of the employment contract.
The prohibition of termination only lapses in the event of complete closure of the company or in the event of termination of the activities of a part of the company. In the latter situation, the employee must have worked at least 26 weeks in the lapsed job.
If an employee has a fixed-term contract that expires during her pregnancy, the employer does not have to extend the contract. However, the pregnancy may not be the reason for the employer not extending the contract.
7. What types of paid days-off are the employees entitled to in the Netherlands?
Employees are entitled to 20 statutory holiday days per year on the basis of a full-time contract.
In the event of illness, there is a right to continued payment of 70% of the last-earned salary for a period of 104 weeks.
The partner of a woman in childbirth is entitled to five days’ paid birth leave. From 1 July 2020, there is a right to five additional weeks of birth leave amounting to 70% of the salary, capped to a certain maximum.
There are also paid leave schemes such as emergency leave and short-term care leave.
The Netherlands recognises a number of public holidays, such as Easter, Whitsun and Christmas, which is when most people have leave.
8. Is it possible to include a non-competition clause in the employment contract, and what are the grounds for concluding a valid non-competition agreement?
A non-competition clause is only valid if it has been agreed in writing with an adult employee.
A distinction must be made between fixed-term and open-ended employment contracts. The basic principle of a fixed-term employment contract is that, regardless of the duration of the contract, no legally valid non-competition clause can be agreed.
This is only possible if the employer has important business interests to hold an employee to the clause. This interest must be substantiated in the employment contract. This requirement does not apply in an open-ended employment contract.
9. Is the employer obliged to pay compensation for the period of validity of a non-competition clause/agreement after the termination of employment?
The basic principle is that an employer does not owe any compensation to an employee whose contract ends. However, a court may decide that maintaining a non-competition clause is only reasonable if a ‘fair’ compensation is paid.
10. What happens to employees if their employer goes bankrupt in the Netherlands, and are they entitled to severance pay?
In the event of bankruptcy, the trustee may dismiss the employee subject to a notice period of six weeks.
Employees are not entitled to a transition allowance, however a wage guarantee scheme applies. This means that employees are entitled to a maximum of six weeks’ wages, paid by the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency).
Any overdue salaries for the period up to 13 weeks before the bankruptcy date will also be paid by the UWV.
11. Are there any courts specially appointed for the purpose of dealing with labour law matters in the Netherlands?
Yes, the subdistrict court.
12. In the event that an employee is a debtor in enforcement proceedings in the Netherlands, to what extent is it possible for a bailiff to seize remuneration?
A protected earnings level applies and the bailiff can only attach the part of the income above this protected earnings level.
The amount of the protected earnings changes every year and depends on the age of the employee and whether an employee is single or has a partner.