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Written by:
Marcel Frazer


Dissolution of employment contract because of impaired working relationship

Employers must have “good cause” for terminating any employee’s service contract. Barring the occasional statutory exception, an employer’s dismissal of an employee must be justifiable and it must be impossible for the employer to redeploy the employee in question at short notice. Prevailing legislation contains an enumeration of “reasonable grounds” for termination of an employment contract. It depends on the reason for termination whether the Employee Insurance Agency’s permission is needed or the employer should submit a petition for dissolution of the employment contract with the Sub District Court. An example of a statutorily defined ground for termination is where the working relationship has become so severely impaired as to render it unreasonable to insist that the employer should allow the employment contract to continue. 

One of the Sub District Courts recently found itself adjudicating such a case. It involved an employer who had based his petition for dissolution of the service contract of one of his employees on the fact that a labour dispute had severely impaired the working relationship with the employee in question. It had been established that there were both health and work related reasons why the employee (who had been off sick for a while) had been rendered unfit for work. The employer’s SHE coach, the company medical officer, the insurance experts and the Employee Insurance Agency had each been consistently referring to a labour dispute, attempts at resolving which had failed owing to the employee’s attitude. The employee for his part had recovered by the time the case was heard by the Sub District Court, which duly dissolved the employment contract with due observance of the term of notice to be observed by the employer less the amount of time the legal proceedings had taken. Both conditions for the employee being awarded transitional compensation had been satisfied, in that it had been the employer upon whose initiative the employment ties had been severed whereas the employee’s service contract had outlasted the requisite 24-month term. The Sub District Court went on to deny the employee’s request for fair recompense, arguing that there had been no question of “seriously culpable act or omission” on the part of the employer (legislative history, it should be noted, confirming incidents involving seriously culpable act or omission on the part of employers as being few and far between in the Netherlands).

Dutch version: Ontbinding wegens verstoorde arbeidsrelatie

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