Summary dismissal for urgent cause

Under Dutch law, employment contracts can be terminated with immediate effect for an ‘urgent’ cause, such as theft, fraud, or other very serious misconduct. A non-exhaustive list of acts that amount to urgent cause is provided in Article 7:678 DCC. Other than when giving notice, it is not necessary to ask and obtain a permit from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV).

Certain formal rules should be observed. The employer has the obligation to act with due care and take the employee’s interests into consideration. The employer also has an obligation to communicate the urgent cause to the employee and the termination should be effected as soon as possible after the employer became aware of the cause for termination. It is however allowed to seek legal counsel first and it is advisable to indeed discuss the facts with a lawyer specialized in Dutch employment law, who can also be of assistance to draft a letter in which the reason for dismissal is described.

Any termination of an employment contract for cause can lead to court proceedings, in which the employee will ask the court to declare the termination null and void. In such a case, the employee may be entitled to receive his or her salary from the date of improper termination until the employment agreement is terminated in a proper way (e.g., by obtaining approval from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) to give notice or a court decision). It is therefore customary that immediately steps are taken to make certain that the contract of employemnt will end. In a lot of cases the matter will be settled before further legal measures become necessary, as both parties usually prefer clarity above long lasting litigation.

Further information

You are welcome to consult us before taking a major decision with regard to summary dismissal of an employee for cause. For further information, please contact our contact person of the Labour and Employment Law Practice Group.

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Dutch Bar Association Official partner of Erasmus School of Law