Grounds for dismissal

Published by:
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW

You can only dismiss your employee if you have good reason to do so. The law defines what grounds for dismissal are permitted. In some situations, you cannot dismiss your employee at all, and sometimes you need no grounds for dismissal. Your employee may resign without good reason.

What grounds of dismissal are permitted?

You can dismiss your employee:

These are difficult situations affecting your business. Such as a restructuring, relocation of the business, bankruptcy or (partial) termination of the business. This can be a collective dismissal. It then involves more than 20 employees.

Your employee has been disabled for 2 or more years.

Your employee is frequently ill and this has serious consequences for your business. Another job or adapted work is not possible.

You must tell your employee this so that they have the chance to improve their work.

Your employee behaves badly or does not keep appointments. For example, stealing, coming to work drunk, forging diplomas or refusing work without good reason. You may then often dismiss your employee with immediate effect.

A conscientious objection is an objection your employee makes for religious, moral or ethical reasons. Such as an employee who does not want to work on Sundays because of their religion. The objection must be so serious that you cannot reach a solution together. You must be able to prove to the court that you have no other suitable work.

The disrupted working relationship (in Dutch) cannot be restored. For example, because of an employment conflict.

In other circumstances (in Dutch), for example, if your employee is in the Netherlands illegally or in prison.

Your employee is not doing his job properly for a combination of reasons. Since 1 January 2020, there has been the option to dismiss your employee through the sub-district court on cumulative grounds (in Dutch). This means dismissal is also possible through a combination of the circumstances outlined above. Please note: economic reasons or long-term disability cannot be combined with other reasons.

Find more information (in Dutch) here about reasons for dissmissal.

Transition payment upon dismissal

Upon dismissal, you often have to pay a transition payment (ontslagvergoeding). This is a payment as compensation for dismissal. The amount depends on the monthly salary and the number of years the employee worked for you. Does the subdistrict court (kantonrechter) terminate the employment agreement based on cumulative grounds (in Dutch)? The court can award an additional compensation in addition to the transition compensation. This additional compensation is a maximum of 50% of the transition compensation.

When can you dismiss your employee without grounds?

When are you not allowed to dismiss your employee?

There are a number of situations in which you cannot dismiss your employee, namely:

  • in the first 2 years that your employee is sick or unfit for work;
  • if, during sick leave, you have not done enough to facilitate your employee’s return to work;
  • during pregnancy, pregnancy and maternity leave and 6 weeks thereafter;
  • in the first 6 weeks after incapacity for work due to pregnancy or childbirth;
  • because your employee wants to take parental leave;
  • during membership in a staff representative body;
  • during compulsory military or alternative service in the country of origin;
  • if your employee is a member of a trade union or a political organisation;
  • for reasons of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, age or disability;
  • if your employee refuses to work on Sundays;
  • if your employee works for you as an expert (arbodeskundige) under the Working Conditions Act (Arbeidsomstandighedenwet);
  • if your employee is a data protection officer under the Dutch Data Protection Act (Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens).

Employee dismissal procedures and notice period

Are you going to dismiss your employee? If so, you must comply with the dismissal procedures. Think about the notice period, for example. The notice period depends on the duration of the contract. Does your employee have a permanent contract? Then the notice period is 1 month. Your employee must give 1 month's notice. You can make other agreements with your employee. Does your employee have a fixed-term contract? For example, for 1 year or 6 months? Then the contract ends on the agreed end date. You can agree that your employee can give notice earlier. This agreement must be included in the contract. Which steps you take next may vary. It depends, for example, on whether your employee agrees to the dismissal.

Read more about dismissal procedures.

What if your employee resigns?

An employee does not have to give a reason for resigning. If your employee resigns of their own volition, you do not have to pay a transition payment. However, if your employee leaves due to your own serious wilful misconduct or negligence, which has impaired the working relationship, then your employee is entitled to transition payment.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact