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If you want to dismiss staff or your employee wants to resign, a period of notice should be given in both situations. There is a minimum period of notice which can be given and rules to address any conflicts that may arise.
When to give notice?
You must always give notice when an employee has a permanent employment contract. In some cases you must even give notice when the employee in question has a fixed-term contract. The latter applies if you and your employee have agreed in the contract that both parties can terminate the employment. If you wish to terminate the contract, you must do so by the end of the month, unless otherwise agreed in writing.
When not to give notice?
You don't have to give notice:
- during an employee's trial period
- in cases of summary dismissal due to gross misconduct for instance
- when the employee resigns with immediate effect (summary resignation) following a breach of contract for example.
Statutory notice period
The length of the notice period (in Dutch) for an employer depends on the duration of the employment contract, with a maximum of 4 months.
When an employer wants to changes the notice period
You can agree to a change in the length of the notice period. However, if you wish to shorten the notice period in an employment contract, you may only do so if the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) for your sector allows this. The normal statutory notice period will apply in cases where no provision has been made for separate terms on the period of notice in the contract and there is no CAO. Please note: the period of notice is always at least 1 month.
Notice period for employees
The statutory notice period for an employee is 1 month. However, you may have agreed on a longer or shorter notice period with the employee. If so this must be explicitely stated in the contract of employment. If your employee's notice period is more than 1 month, the employer's notice period has to be at least twice as long. The maximum notice period for an employee is 6 months.
How does it work?
A notice period usually runs from the start of the day after you dismissed your employee or they handed their notice in. At the end of the notice period, the contract of employment ends. Both you and your employee may decide that the dismissal or resignation comes into effect immediately. If so, this must be laid down in a written statement. Be aware that an agreement like this may have negative consequences for your (former) employee's unemployment benefit. In any case you must follow proper dismissal procedures. You can seek advice about dismissal procedures from the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) or you can consult a lawyer specialised in labour law.
Notice period older employees
For older employees in some cases the statutory notice period may be extended. This applies to employees who:
- were hired before 1999,
- were 45 years of age at the time and
- whose contractual notice period exceeds the current statutory notice period.
Failure by the employer to give the correct notice period may result in having to pay compensation to your employee or the other way round. Compensation will amount to what your employee would have earned had the regular notice period been applied. It is up to a court of law to mitigate this amount or not. However, compensation consists of always at least the earnings of the statutory notice period, with a 3 months minimum. Finally, a court of law may also grant complete compensation.