Hiring and firing in the Netherlands

Who hires persons to work in The Netherlands will sooner or later get to know the relatively complex but also flexible system of Dutch Labour Law. The rules are laid down in statutory regulations, like in the Dutch Civil Code, and in extensive case law. Hiring is relatively easy. Firing may be complex, but as from 2020 the law has been amended and an additional dismissal ground has been added, to make dismissal possible in cases where this was previously not possible.


The regulations of Dutch Labor Law do call for a written contract of employment. Nevertheless, the contract exists if not written down. But it is good to realise that the absence of a written contract usually is advantageous for the employee. By not concluding a written contract before commencement of the contract, the employer misses the chance to stipulate important clauses. For certain clauses, like a non-competition clause, the written consent of the employee is a formal requirement.

The contract of employment may be concluded in the Dutch language, or another language. The use of contracts in other languages is not formally forbidden. This does not mean that one should not take into account that Dutch law is applicable. It is good to realise that Dutch Employment Law has many particularities. In our daily practice we are frequently confronted with companies using the same contract model in various countries. This seems to be an easy and fair solution, but this is not often the case. There is a high risk that some of the clauses used will be disregarded by the Court. It is very important to conclude a contract that is specifically designed for use within The Netherlands. This is not expensive or difficult and may help a lot.

Under certain restrictions one is free to conclude contracts of employment for a fixed or for an indefinite term. Fixed term contracts may be renewed under certain conditions. One cannot continue to renew such contracts over and over again. The law provides for a system where fixed term contracts become indefinite term agreements afer further renewal.


In The Netherlands it is not always easy to dismiss employees. The use of a mix of fixed and indefinite term contracts and the hiring of employees via temp agencies is therefore a good way to avail over a flexible work force. This will enable the employer to up size and down size the company in an effective manner.

For an article about the dismissal of employees with a contract for an indefinite term in the Netherlands, please see the Minerva advocaten website.

Please note, that it is generally impossible to fire an employee during pregnancy or during sick leave.