Dismissal and notice periods

Publication date: 22 March 2021
Employment contracts cannot be terminated with immediate effect except for an urgent cause. Which deadlines do you, as an employer, have to take into account?


Statutory notice periods

The law prescribes how long the notice period must be. For employers, the notice period depends on the duration of the employment contract:

  • Less than five years: 1 month
  • At least five, but less than ten years: 2 months
  • At least ten, but less than fifteen years: 3 months
  • Fifteen years or more: 4 months.

In principle, the notice period for the employee is always one month.

There are several exceptions to these main rules:

  • In the event of a dismissal after the employee has reached the AOW age, a notice period of one month applies.
  • In the event of dismissal with a permit from the UWV, the time needed to process the complete application may be deducted from the notice period, provided it is at least one month.
  • A longer notice period can be agreed upon in writing. The notice period for an employee may not exceed six months, and the notice period for the employer must always be at least twice as long as for the employee.
  • A shorter period can only be agreed by collective agreement or by the decision of a competent administrative body. In the same way, it can be arranged that the employer is not subject to twice the notice period, but at least to the same period as the employee.

When does the employment contract end?

What does it mean if the employer notifies an employee that the employment contract will be terminated per 1 March  or will end on that date? What is the last working day? 28 February or 1 March? The Dutch Supreme Court recently had to answer this question.

The answer was simple. Pursuant to the law, the employment contract will in principle end on the last day of the month. The date of termination, therefore, is the last day of the month in which the notice period ends. For example, a director under the articles of association was dismissed as a director on 30 January. The director had excused himself from the general meeting where this decision was taken. On 1 February, the dismissal decision was sent. At that time, the employment law notice period started to run. The notice period ended on 1 March. The date of termination is the last day of the month, so in this case the date of termination was 31 March.

There are several exceptions to this main rule:

  • A different end date was agreed in writing in advance
  • A different end date is customary within a sector, for example, because the salary is not paid monthly but weekly or four-weekly
  • The employee has an on-call contract. Please note, in that case the end of the month does apply to the employer
  • In the event of bankruptcy
  • Dismissal with immediate effect; and
  • Dismissal during the probationary period

Termination without observing the prescribed notice period

If the employer gives notice before the statutory date of notice, this is a termination where the prescribed notice period has not been observed. The termination is valid and the expiry periods start to run on the date the termination was done. However, in that case the employee is entitled to compensation. This is equal to the salary for the period between the actual date of notice and the statutory date of notice.

More information

Would you like to know which notice period applies at the end of the contract with your employees? Or do you need legal assistance for the dismissal of an employee? Please contact us:

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