Dutch employment agreement

AMS’s Dutch employment law expertise

Our highly experienced team of employment lawyers advises employers as well as employees, whether the matter concerns a dismissal, termination of employment, non-competition clauses, or a reorganisation.

Employment agreement

An employment agreement contains the agreements between the employer and the employee, including such things as the position, the scope of the work and salary. However, employer and employee usually also conclude mutual agreements with each other. Dutch law includes provisions for a number of such particular agreements. In some sectors, these agreements are already recorded beforehand in collective labour agreements (Dutch: CAOs).

Clauses in the employment agreement

In the Netherlands, employers will often include clauses in the employment agreement for the protection of their interests. Examples of such clauses include non-competition, non-solicitation and non-recruit clauses. These clauses continue their effect after the termination of the employment agreement. A penalty clause is often linked to these clauses so that more of a threat is involved. The protection of the employer’s interests during the period of employment can often be found in the ancillary activities clause, and in the confidentiality clause.

The probationary period in an employment agreement

In the Netherlands, it is customary to include a probationary period in the employment agreement. The probationary period is the initial phase of the employment in which, in principle, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment immediately without the necessity of a valid reason. Since the introduction of the Work and Income Act (Dutch: WWZ) on 1 July 2015, probationary periods may no longer be agreed to by default. The employment agreement must now be concluded in any case for a period of at least six months.

Notice period for an employment agreement

Once the probationary period has passed, the employment agreement can be cancelled by taking a notice period into account. This can be a contractually agreed notice period, but it can also be the legal notice period. The requirements for this depend on the question of whether it concerns a fixed-term employment agreement or a permanent employment agreement. In addition, under Dutch law, and depending on the reason for the dismissal, permission from the governmental body called UWV WERK (“UWV”) is always required; this, or dissolution via the district court.

The collective employment agreement (CAO)

In many sectors in the Netherlands, collective employment agreements (CAOs) apply. Employers subject to a CAO must use the contents of that CAO in their emoluments. If a CAO applies in a given sector, this provides clarity about the employment-law rules that apply, but it also provides a certain degree of protection for the employee. An AMS lawyer would be glad to provide you with additional advice in this regard.

Sequential employment

If you are an employee in the Netherlands, you can also gain protection from the regulations concerning sequential employment. If an employer can be considered to be the next subsequent employer, then the employee takes certain rights and obligations from his old employer along to his new employer. This can have far-reaching consequences. Subsequent employment is often a risk in the temporary employment sector, but also for companies that acquire enterprises from bankrupt estates.