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Netherlands mutual agreement to end employment

Employment relationships can come to an end for a variety of reasons, such as an employee quitting, being fired, or being made redundant. In the Netherlands, employees and employers can also come to a mutual agreement to end their employment. 

Whatever the situation, there are specific rules and regulations that apply to the end of an employment relationship. In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the most important things you should know before hiring in the Netherlands, including notice periods for both employers and employees, the rules around termination of employment contracts, and the post-termination restrictions you can impose on your employees.

Notice period in Netherlands

In the Netherlands, employers have to give notice when they want to dismiss an employee, and employees have to give notice when they resign. The specific period of notice for either party might be different depending on the collective labour agreement that applies and the employee’s contract. 

Notice periods for employees in the Netherlands

The statutory notice period for an employee in the Netherlands is one month. That means that an employee has to give notice at least one month before their planned end date when they leave their job. 

An employer and an employee can agree on a shorter or longer notice period, which should be explicitly stated in the employment contract. However, it can’t be longer than six months. If the employee’s notice period is more than one month, the employer’s notice period has to be at least twice as long. 

Notice periods for employers in the Netherlands

The length of the notice period an employer in the Netherlands has to give an employee depends on their length of service. 

The statutory notice periods are:

  •  One month for less than five years of service
  • Two months for 5–10 years of service
  • Three months for 10–15 years of service
  • Four months for 15+ years of service 

Collective labour agreements can provide for shorter notice periods. Also, notice periods can be longer than four months if both parties agree, but can’t be more than six months. 

Notice periods for temporary contracts in the Netherlands

Fixed-term contracts end on a fixed date, which means they don’t have a notice period. However, employers in the Netherlands have to inform employees on fixed-term contracts if they don’t want to renew their contracts. They should do this in writing at least one month before the end date. 

When employers and employees don’t need to give notice

There is no need for either party to give notice in the following circumstances:

  • When the employee is still in their trial period
  • In the case of summary dismissal (e.g. due to gross misconduct)
  • In the case of summary resignation (e.g. because of a breach of contract) 

Penalties for incorrect notice periods in the Netherlands

If an employer in the Netherlands fails to give their employee the correct notice, they might have to pay them compensation. This amounts to the total the employee would have earned for working their notice period, which means it is equal to at least one month’s salary. 

Severance pay in the Netherlands

Severance pay in the Netherlands is known as a ‘transition payment,’ and it must be paid when either: 

  • An employer dismisses an employee for a valid reason
  • An employee resigns due to employer misconduct or negligence
  • An employer opts not to extend an employee’s contract 

Employees are entitled to a transition payment from their first day of employment. However, employers only have to pay this when their employee doesn’t agree with the dismissal. 

The amount employers have to pay depends on the employee’s monthly salary and length of service. You can calculate the transition payment you would have to pay an employee by dividing their total gross monthly salary by three and then multiplying that figure by the number of years they have worked for you. 

For example, an employee who earned 3000€ per month and had worked for you for a total of 4 years would be entitled to a transition payment of €4000. The maximum amount for a transition payment is €94,000 as of 2024.

Termination of employment in Netherlands

Termination of employment in the Netherlands is only permissible in certain circumstances, in accordance with Dutch employment law. There are also specific rules that employers need to follow to make sure the termination process is fair. 

Valid reasons for termination of employment in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the following are considered valid reasons for dismissing an employee: 

  • Business reasons: For example, when financial constraints mean you have to make redundancies. There are special rules if you want to make 20 or more employees redundant at the same time.
  • Long-term illness: Employees are entitled to two years of paid sick leave. After this time, it’s possible to terminate their contract if they are still unable to work.
  • Regular absence due to illness: Employers can sometimes dismiss employees if their regular absences are disruptive to the business. They must try and make adjustments to the employee’s work or offer them an alternative position first.
  • Problems with performance: If an employee is not doing their job properly, they can be dismissed. Employers must first bring the problem to the employee’s attention and give them the opportunity to improve.
  • Problems with conduct: Employees who steal, come to work drunk, refuse work or otherwise behave badly can be dismissed with immediate effect.
  • Conscientious objection: An employee can be dismissed if they make a conscientious objection which means they are unable to do their job. An example would be an employee who can’t work on Sundays because of their religion. Employers must work with the employee to try to find a solution before dismissing them.
  • Disrupted working relationship: This covers things like employment conflicts. In situations where relations can’t be restored, employers can dismiss an employee on these grounds.
  • Other circumstances: Employers can also dismiss employees for other reasons that make it impossible for them to continue working together. For example, if an employee is sent to prison or is no longer legally allowed to work in the Netherlands, this would be a valid reason for dismissal. 

Employers can also dismiss their employees for a combination of the reasons listed above. 

Different ways to terminate an employment contract in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, employees have to agree to a dismissal. If they do, there are two options: 

  1. Dismissal with mutual consent: This is when an employer and an employee mutually agree to end the employment contract. They must reach a settlement agreement containing the terms of the agreement. In this situation, employers don’t have to pay a transition payment, but they do need to pay the employee for unused holiday leave. The notice period must also be taken into account.
  2. Termination with consent: This is when an employer decides to end an employment contract, and the employee provides their written agreement. In this case, employers have to take the notice payment into account and pay a transition payment based on the employee’s salary and years of service. 

Once an employee has given their agreement for a termination of employment in the Netherlands, they have 14 days to reconsider. If they change their mind, they can revoke their consent without giving a reason. 

If the employee doesn’t agree to the dismissal, things are a bit more complicated for the employer. They can still dismiss the employee, but they need the approval of the Employee Insurance Agency or the sub-district court, depending on the grounds for the dismissal. Specifically, the Employee Insurance Agency handles dismissals on the grounds of economic reasons or long-term incapacity, and the sub-district court handles all other reasons such as unsatisfactory performance or conflict between the employer and the employee.

Post-termination restraints

Post-termination restraints are restrictions an employer can impose on their employees’ actions after they leave their employment. The idea is to protect your business by preventing ex-employees from poaching staff, soliciting customers, or launching a competing business. In the Netherlands, there are two main types of post-termination restraints that employers can impose on their employees: non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants. Collectively, these can be referred to as non-competition agreements or non-compete clauses. 

Non-solicitation clauses

A non-solicitation clause is a clause that can be added to an employee’s contract, which states that they may not approach or recruit any customers or employees from their former employer after they leave the company. This prevents the departing employee from causing their former employer to lose business. 

Restrictive covenants

Restrictive covenants are similar to non-solicitation clauses but are more comprehensive in scope. They can prevent employees from working with competitors, setting up a competing business, or otherwise engaging in activities which could harm their former employer’s business. 

These clauses also often prevent employees from discussing trade secrets with their future employers. They may include penalty clauses that impose financial sanctions for violating the restrictive covenant. 

Restrictions to non-compete clauses

Under Dutch law, there are certain requirements that non-competition clauses have to adhere to in order to be found valid. In general, post-termination restraints shouldn’t be too broad or restrictive. If a court finds that even one aspect of a non-competition clause is unfair, the entire agreement could be declared invalid. 

The specific criteria that non-competition clauses need to meet are: 

  • Reasonable scope and duration: Non-competition clauses generally need to be restricted to a duration of one year. They should also only aim to restrict certain specific activities.
  • Do not impede employee’s right to work: Non-competition clauses should not prevent former employees from being able to make a living, for example by banning them from working with any company in the same industry.
  • Objective basis: Employers can’t simply use non-competition clauses to restrict all former employees from competing with them — there must be an objective basis for the clause. 

Enforcing non-competition clauses

In the Netherlands, employers can enforce a non-competition clause in court if the employee has breached it. To do this, they need to prove that the clause serves a legitimate business interest and that it doesn’t unreasonably interfere with the employee’s ability to make a living. They also need to give evidence of any potential harm caused by breaching the agreement, and that this outweighs the benefits of doing so. Courts can impose financial penalties on employees if they find that they have breached a reasonable non-competition agreement.


In some circumstances, employees may choose to waive their rights to bring a claim against their employer. In the Netherlands, this is usually in the context of a settlement agreement. 

Understanding settlement agreements

A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms and conditions of the end of their employment agreement. Settlement agreements may be used to address issues of wrongful termination, discrimination, breach of contract, or other disputes. 

As part of a settlement agreement, employees can agree to waive their rights to bring any further claims against their employer. This is a way to provide closure to both parties and prevent future litigation. 

Other considerations when offering settlement agreements

Here are a few other factors that employers should keep in mind when drawing up settlement agreements in the Netherlands: 

  • Confidentiality: Settlement agreements often include confidentiality clauses, which ensure that the details of the dispute and its resolution are kept private.
  • Financial considerations: Employers often agree to make a financial payment as part of a settlement agreement. The amount to be paid should be negotiated between the parties.
  • Clear, unambiguous terms: The terms of a settlement agreement should leave no room for confusion or misinterpretation. This ensures both parties fully understand their rights and obligations.
  • Voluntary consent: Employees can’t force or coerce their employees into signing a settlement agreement. It’s important to ensure you have the voluntary and informed consent of the employee concerned.
  • Legal advice: It’s advisable for both employers and employees in the Netherlands to seek legal advice before signing a settlement agreement including a waiver

Transfer of undertaking in the Netherlands

When a business is purchased by another business, there are rules about what happens to employees at that organisation. In the Netherlands, employees are protected by the European Acquired Rights Directive 2001/23/EC, which is implemented as part of the Dutch Civil Code. 

These regulations stipulate that employees should be transferred from the old employer to the new one and that all of their rights and obligations transfer with them. The employees’ employment contracts remain unchanged, apart from the name of their employer. 

What counts as a transfer of undertaking in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, only certain transactions count as transfers of undertaking. Dutch business law stipulates that the sale of an entire business and all its activities is always a transfer of undertaking. However, things get more complicated when only certain parts of a business are sold or transferred.

According to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the key question is whether the identity of the company is preserved. If a business’ activity is effectively closed down and then continued or renewed by another business with the same or similar business assets, this is likely to be considered a transfer of undertaking in the Netherlands. 

Consulting with employee representatives

In the Netherlands, employers have to consult with employee representatives about any proposed transfer of undertaking. They must provide them with the reason behind the potential transfer, the potential consequences for employees, and what measures will be taken. Employers must also inform individual employees about transfers and their consequences. 

Joint liability

When a business is transferred, the seller and the buyer are jointly responsible for the fulfilment of their obligations under employment contracts for one year after the sale. After this date, responsibility passes solely to the purchaser. 

When employees object to the transfer

Employees don’t have to continue their employment with the new company if their company is purchased or transferred. If an employee objects to the transfer, they can refuse to continue their employment and their contract will end on the transfer date.

Avoid risk and missed opportunities with our end-to-end employment solutions

There are many different ways an employment contract can come to an end. But whatever the situation, you need to understand the rules that cover the end of employment in the Netherlands — or you could end up facing legal issues. 

Our solutions ensure your business is protected from risk when a relationship with a worker comes to an end — whatever the reason. We can also help you to avoid missed opportunities by re-deploying talent where possible.

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