A reminder on Dutch employment law changes with effect from 1 January 2015

A number of changes to Dutch employment law took effect on 1 January 2015. Below is a summary of the most important changes.

Trial period

A trial period may no longer be included in fixed-term employment contracts of six months or shorter. If an employer does include a trial period in a contract of six months or shorter, such trial period will not be binding and can therefore not be invoked by parties. As a result, if an employer wishes to include a trial period in a fixed-term contract, it should offer an employment contract that exceeds a term of six months, for instance six months and one week.

Notification of termination of fixed-term employment contracts

The employer must notify the employee whether or not a fixed-term employment contract will be extended. This should be done no later than one month before the contract would normally end. If the employer wishes to extend the employment contract, also the terms under which the contract will be extended should be mentioned. Any such notification must be done in writing. If the employer fails to notify the employee in accordance with the above, the employee may claim compensation equal to a maximum of one monthly gross salary. Any such claim should be filed by the employee within two months following the end of the employment contract. In view of this new rule, it is advisable to already mention in the employment contract that the contract will not be extended after the agreed end date. It is still unknown as to how strictly courts will interpret this new rule. We therefore advise to always inform the employee whether the employment contract will be ended or extended at least one month in advance, even if a clause to that effect has been included in the contract.

Note that all fixed-term employment contracts that end on or after 1 February 2015 will fall under the new regulations.

Non-competition clauses

A non-competition and/or business relations clause may no longer be included in fixed-term employment contracts, except in case of compelling business interests. Such interests must then be substantiated in writing. If the employer fails to do so, the clause will not be binding. The employer can only successfully invoke the non-competition clause if, upon termination of the employment contract, the compelling business interests are still applicable.

It is expected that courts will severely assess whether all requirements regarding non-competition clauses in fixed-term contracts are met. We recommend employers to critically determine as to which positions require a non-competition clause and how this can be substantiated properly.

Additional changes as at 1 July 2015

The new rules as to dismissing employees and successive fixed-term employment contracts will enter into force with effect from 1 July 2015. Ovidius will keep you posted.


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