Specific and restrictive rules and procedures apply in the case of pregnant women, women on and returning from maternity leave, young fathers, and employees recovering after a work-related accident or suffering from a work-related illness. Women on maternity leave cannot be dismissed during this period.
Since 2008, a new means of termination has been introduced, namely “by mutual agreement”. This new possibility is called ‘rupture conventionnelle’ (mutual termination of the employment contract). The termination is agreed by both employer and employee and there is no cause or reason to demonstrate.
The employee is entitled to unemployment insurance benefits and dismissal indemnity provided by law or the applicable collective bargaining agreement (or more if agreed).
A strict procedure including preliminary meetings and consideration periods should be followed (both parties have the benefit of 15 calendar days to retract, from the date on which the form is signed); a specific form must be filled in and signed by both parties.
The specific form must be sent to the state authorities for agreement. The state authorities have a 15-open day period to review the form. Within these 15 days, the state authorities can agree to the termination, disagree or stay silent (silence amounts to agreement). However, the state authorities must expressly agree for protected employees. Otherwise the termination is void.
Since September 2017 it has been possible for the employer to negotiate a collective agreement through a ‘rupture conventionnelle collective’ (mass mutual termination of the employment contract) with trade unions. Such an agreement can only implement voluntary departures and thus excludes any dismissals designed to eliminate jobs. This new method of terminating contracts is entirely excluded from the rules governing economic dismissals. The labour administration is informed as soon as negotiations to conclude such an agreement start and reviews the agreement’s contents before validating it.
Dutch employment law prohibits giving notice to certain categories of employees, such as pregnant women, members and former members of a works council and employees who are absent due to illness (at least during the first two years).
In cases where the illness commences after the employer files his application for dismissal to the UWV, the employer will still be allowed to give a notice of dismissal to the employee.
The rules for special protection do not apply to cases of termination of employment by the court. However, the court will assess whether the request for termination involves a prohibition to terminate and will refuse the termination if the reason for termination directly results from a prohibition to terminate.
If a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) applies, the employment conditions will be governed by the CBA. The CBA may also provide for an alternative dismissal route in case of redundancy, but that is uncommon.