On 28 May 2019 the Dutch Parliament adopted new employment legislation: The Balanced Labour Market Act (‘Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans’), hereinafter the WAB. The most important changes are discussed below.
New cumulation ground for dismissal
The legislation introduces a new ground for dismissal. This makes it a bit easier for employers to dismiss employees. Dismissal will also be possible if there is a sum of circumstances, the so-called cumulation ground. Now the employer must fully comply with 1 of the 8 grounds for dismissal. This new ground gives the court the opportunity to combine circumstances. The employee can receive an extra half transitional allowance (on top of the current statutory transitional allowance) if the cumulation ground is used for the dismissal.
Severance: Transitional allowance
The new act arranges that employees will have the right to a transitional allowance immediately from the first start of the employment contract, instead of only after two years.
The accrual of transitional allowance is reduced in case of long-term employment. The accrual for everyone, regardless of the age of the employee, is one third of a monthly salary.
There will be a scheme for small employers to compensate the transitional allowance if they have to end their business due to retirement or illness.
Extending the scope of the chain of employment agreements
The current period after which successive fixed-term employment contracts legally change into an employment contract for an indefinite period is two years. The WAB broadens the succession of temporary contracts. Under the WAB it will still be possible to enter into a maximum of three temporary contracts. The maximum period of fixed-term contracts will be extended to three years. This chain of successive fixed-term employment contracts can be broken by an interruption period of six months.
It is possible to shorten the interruption period between a chain of fixed-term contracts in a Collective Bargaining Agreement from six to three months if there is recurring temporary work that can be done for a maximum of nine months a year.
An exception to the chain provision will be made for temporary workers in primary education who replace employees who became ill.
A new definition is introduced in Article 7: 628a paragraph 9 of the Dutch Civil Code: the ‘call agreement’. In call agreements the number of working hours per period and the salary are not established upfront but can vary depending on for example the amount of work available. Under the WAB an employee must be called by the employer at least four days in advance. If the employer does not follow this regulation, the employee is not obligated to come in for work. Call workers retain the right to wages for the period for which they were called if the work is cancelled less than four days in advance. The employer is obliged to offer the call worker an employment contract after a year for the average number of hours that he has worked in the previous twelve months. In Collective Bargaining Agreements alternative arrangements can be made under certain conditions.
Payroll employees will receive the same legal position and primary and secondary employment conditions as employees who are employed by the employer.
Payroll employees are also entitled to an ‘adequate’ pension scheme.
Unemployment benefit premium differentiation
In order to make employment contracts for an indefinite period of time more attractive for employers, the WAB arranges for an unemployment benefit premium differentiation between permanent and temporary contracts. A lower premium will apply for employment contracts for an indefinite period of time and a higher premium for fixed-term employment contracts.
The intended commencing date of the WAB is 1 January 2020. The right to an adequate pension scheme for payrolling starts on 1 January 2021.