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What Should I Look for in My Employment Agreement?

A permanent contract can only be terminated if the employee chooses to give notice, if the parties reach an amicable termination of the employment agreement. In other words, a permanent contract gives you lots of protection. An employer cannot simply unilaterally end your employment agreement. They may, however, end the contract during your probationary period. This period cannot last longer than two months.

If you are offered a temporary (or definite) contract, and of course this happens often, keep the following in mind: the 3x2x6 rule applies. A maximum of three definite contracts is allowed, in a period of two years, unless six months have passed between the last two contracts. After this, the contract becomes a permanent one.

Probationary period

The probationary period differs depending on the contract you have. The rules are as follows:

  • 0-6 months contract: No probation period.
  • 6-24 months contract: A one-month probation period is allowed.
  • 24+ months contract: A two-month probation period is allowed.

If these rules are not followed, the probationary period is not valid and unilateral dismissal is not allowed.

Notice period

An employee may, of course, always give notice and end the agreement. However, an employee must adhere to the notice period, either the statutory notice period or the contractual one. The statutory notice period is always one month for the employee.

For the employer, the notice period they can give you depends on your years of service. For less than five years of service, the employer must give one months’ notice, for between five and 10 years it is two months’ notice, between 10 and 15 years it is three months and for more than 15 years of service, the notice period is four months.

Parties are allowed to agree upon another notice period, but the employer’s notice period must be double that of the employee and an employee’s notice period may never be longer than six months.

Job description

Make sure you receive a job description before you start working, so you know what’s expected and what you’re going to be held accountable for.

Working hours

A full-time job is normally 40 hours per week. Sometimes an employer expects you to work more hours and not get paid for them. Do take note of this. It is also common in the Netherlands to work fewer than 40 hours per week for a reduced salary.

Pension

A pension is not a right. Most employers offer a pension to their employees but, generally speaking, it is not an obligation.

Illness

First, an employer cannot dismiss an employee during the first two years of sickness. Second, an employee retains the rights to receive a salary.

The law states that the employer has to pay at least 70 percent of the last salary which the employee received before becoming ill. It is quite common here for employers to continue paying 100 percent of an employee’s salary during sickness, often for the first six months or year. During illness, an employee must meet a number of requirements, in particular, they are expected to do their best to get well as soon as possible.

Discussions can arise between an employer and an employee over whether the employee is ill or not. If this happens, always ask for an appointment with the company doctor. This doctor is the only person who can decide whether you have the right to stay at home and get paid your salary or not. The employer does not have this right.

Post-contractual obligations

Make sure that you take into account other clauses in an employment contract. These can include a confidentiality clause, which prevents an employee from sharing proprietary information, or a non-solicit clause, which means that an employee cannot try to entice their colleagues to leave for another company.

Also, there may be a non-compete and relations clause. This clause may prevent an employee from working in the same field or for a competitor. Employees in my practice often think a non-compete will not be upheld strictly at the end of an employment agreement and this is not the case. Therefore, try to negotiate the non-compete.

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