Courts take the lead on flexible work contracts

The courts are more likely to find in favour of temporary workers who go to court because of a legal conflict over their contract than their employers, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

Jurisprudence has led to people on zero-hour contracts, who work via payroll firms and who are treated as single-client freelancers, being given more rights, the Volkskrant says.

Some 30% of the Dutch workforce – some two million people – currently have a temporary or freelance contract, the paper says.

Social mood

The courts are aware of the trend, labour law professor Evert Verhulp told the paper. ‘Employers are constantly pushing the boundaries. And lawyers have noted that society is protesting against over-flexibility’.

‘Labour law judges look at the practice,’ said their representative Kees Wallis. ‘That is more important than the legal construction.’

Meanwhile, the government’s plans to make it easier for companies to sack staff will not have the desired effect, experts have told the Financieele Dagblad.


They base their opinion on what they have seen of draft versions of the legislation which will be discussed by the cabinet on Friday.

The new law is due to come into effect in mid-2015 and aims to ensure that the difference in the way permanent and temporary staff are treated becomes more blurred and to limit redundancy packages to €75,000 or one year’s salary.

However, labour law expert Rogier Duk told the FD employers will have to continue to build up a file of evidence and offer their employee help to improve their performance before opting for redundancy. ‘It will not be easier to be sacked,’ he told the paper.


And workers will be able to go to court twice to appeal against the decision to sack them – an option they currently do not have. This means redundancy proceedings could end up taking years, Stefan Sagel of De Brauw said.

The experts are also critical of the two-week ‘think about it’ period workers will be given after agreeing a redundancy package.

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