Losing your job in the Netherlands: what you should know (and the next steps)

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So you’ve lost your job in the Netherlands — yep, that sucks. Of course, after drowning your sorrows in a king-sized bowl of bitterballen, you’re probably asking yourself: what next? 

Here’s what you need to know about losing your job in the Netherlands, from termination to unemployment and beyond (like a sweet new gig!)

Just lost your job? Let Undutchables help with your job search. With years of experience in matching internationals to Dutch jobs, this is the ultimate recruitment agency for expats here in the Netherlands. 

Ways you can lose your job in the Netherlands

Whether you’ve just moved to the Netherlands, you’ve just entered the labour market, or you just need a refresher on the Dutch employment rules, it’s always smart to know what to expect. 

READ MORE | The easy guide to understanding your Dutch employment contract

So, since not all countries are the same, here are the deets on all the ways in which you can lose your job in the Netherlands (fun, we know!). 

Your temporary contract expires

Temporary contracts are very common in the Netherlands and have both pros and cons. 

On the one hand, a temporary contract offers more flexibility as you can swap workplaces and career paths relatively fast. On the other hand, it also means less career stability and predictability. 

It might be frustrating, but if you lose your job because your contract expires, there’s not much to do about it. Image: Depositphotos

It makes sense then, that one of the most common ways someone can lose their job in the Netherlands is by having their temporary contract expire and not be renewed by their employer. 

You don’t pass probation

Probation, or a trial period, is also common practice when hiring in the Netherlands. You might have a trial period included in your employment agreement if it’s mentioned in your contract or if it is part of the Collective Labour Agreement of your sector. 

During the probation period, either the employer or the employee can terminate the contract without grounds. 

In other words, you can lose your job during your trial period, and your employer doesn’t even have to tell you why. 

READ MORE | 13 companies in the Netherlands that hire internationals

There are several cases where your employer cannot require a trial period, however. For example, if your contract is for six months or less or if the probation is not agreed upon in writing. 

You’re made redundant

Being made redundant is not a fun experience, but it can happen to the best of us. Basically, you can lose your job in the Netherlands if your employer claims that it doesn’t make sense for the company to keep you employed anymore. 

Being redundant is no fun feeling, but it happens to the best of us. Image: Depositphotos

This can, for example, be due to financial reasons — the company needs to cut down on costs, and one way of doing so is to let employees go. 

The good (?) news is that your employer can’t just fire you out of nowhere. There are tons of rules and regulations they have to overcome first — but we’ll discuss that below. 

You have poor performance or made a huge mistake

Surprise, surprise: if you refuse to do your job or fail to do what is required or expected based on your contract, that can be grounds for you to lose your job in the Netherlands. 

This can, for example, be due to excessive absence from work, wilful misconduct (like theft or faking your diploma), or when your employer has given you the tools and opportunities to improve your performance, but you don’t improve (enough). 

It’s smart to note, however, that your employer should always provide useful feedback, for example in evaluation sessions. You should then be able to use this as pointers to improve your performance to avoid ending up in a situation where you lose your job. 

As an employee, it’s your right to have your work evaluated frequently, to avoid sudden surprises in the working relationship. Image: Depositphotos

Losing your job in the Netherlands isn’t that easy

If you’re reading this because you’re scared you might be about to lose your job, this might offer you some comfort: firing someone in the Netherlands is not a quick and easy affair. In fact, it’s quite difficult to lose your job here in the lowlands. 

READ MORE | 7 ways a Dutch job is different

Basically, if your employer wants to let you go and you don’t agree with the decision, your employer has to apply for permission to fire you at the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). 

In fact, your employer even has to ask the agency for permission if the reasons for dismissing you are based on financial issues, or based on your incapacity to conduct your work. That’s the easy route. 

Luckily, it’s not easy for a company to fire someone in the Netherlands. Image: Freepik

If your employer wants to dismiss you for other reasons, they’ll have to take the case to the sub-district court, which will check whether the grounds and legal aspects of the dismissal are all in order. 

According to the Dutch government, reasonable grounds for dismissal are: 

  • economic reasons, like a company restructure, relocation, or bankruptcy
  • if an employee is disabled for more than two years
  • if the employee is often sick resulting in serious impacts for the business and accommodations can’t be made
  • unsatisfactory work performance that hasn’t improved despite warnings and opportunities for improvement
  • wilful misconduct or culpable negligence, like coming to work drunk or refusing to work without good reason
  • if the employee has serious objections to the activities and no alternative work is available
  • if the employee/employer relationship is seriously damaged and cannot be rectified
  • if the employee is imprisoned
  • if the employee is not legally allowed to work the Netherlands
  • if the employee is failing to perform at work.

Finally, if you’re pregnant, sick, or even just don’t want to work on Sundays — these aren’t grounds for dismissal in the Netherlands. 

Simply put, it takes quite a lot to be fired in this country. 

How you will be terminated

If you’re anxious about the future of your employment, it might calm your nerves to understand the process before and after a possible termination. 

The meeting

The first formal step in the termination process is typically a meeting. It’s likely that the leadership of your workplace and an HR representative will be present at said meeting, and it will most likely be conducted face-to-face.

On the positive side: you’ll probably never experience a less gezellig meeting, so the only way is up… Image: Depositphotos

The unpleasant affair will probably not last very long (10-15 minutes is usually sufficient), and the meeting will consist of the employer explaining the reasons for your dismissal, as well as your benefits and rights as a (former) employee. 

The termination contract

According to Dutch law, your employer cannot fire you without having it all down in writing. So, if both parties, the employee and the employer, agree to end the employment relationship, a contract must be created and signed to document the process. 

That means you’ll likely be handed a termination agreement when your employer delivers the bad news. 

It might sound counterintuitive, but your boss has to provide you with a contract if they want to fire you. Image: Depositphotos

The termination contract should include everything you need to know about the next steps, such as: 

  • when the final payment will be transferred, 
  • when the employment contract will end, 
  • the nature of the dismissal, 
  • and everything else relevant to the situation. 

READ MORE | Dutch bureaucracy in 3(00) easy steps

The notice period 

Whether you choose to quit your job, or you’re being forced to, Dutch law says that a notice period has to be given. There are a few exceptions to this, such as if you’re being dismissed during the trial period of your employment. 

Unless you have agreed on something else, the statutory notice period in the Netherlands is generally one month, but it varies depending on how long you have been in the job. 

Time with employerNotice period
Less than five yearsOne month
Five to 10 yearsTwo months
10 to 14 yearsThree months
15+ yearsFour months

If you and your employer agree that the dismissal or the resignation goes into effect immediately, you can agree on such terms, as long as it is put down in writing. 

Note: your notice period may also be impacted if you have a Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

Even if you’re fired, you usually can’t just walk out of your job in the Netherlands without working out your notice period first. Image: Depositphotos

Severance payments 

If you are being let off against your will in the Netherlands, you are entitled to the remainder of your salary, as well as an extra payment to ease the transition from employment. 

The amount you can expect to receive in severance payments as a newly dismissed person in the Netherlands is equal to one-third of your monthly salary, times the number of years you have occupied your position. 

For example, if you earn €3000 per month and you’ve been with your company for five years, you’ll receive €5000 as a severance payment if you lose your job.

In addition, you might be granted other benefits, such as insurance money, vacation money, or help obtaining a new job, all depending on your employer and the nature of your dismissal. 

You won’t be immediately poor if you lose your job in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule. If you’re dismissed due to seriously culpable behaviour, for example, or if you’ve reached retirement age, you are not entitled to severance payment. 

Your options after losing your job in the Netherlands

If you have been so unfortunate as to lose your job in the Netherlands, it might feel like your life is falling apart. There are, however, a few things you can do to make the best of a frustrating situation. 

First of all, if you believe that your dismissal was unfair, it might be good to know that you can be entitled to extra severance payments. This has to be decided in court, during the regular proceedings of dismissal without mutual consent. 

Secondly, and possibly most obviously, if you have lost your job in the Netherlands, you’re probably eligible to apply for unemployment benefits (WW-uitkering). 

Applying for unemployment benefits should be one of the first things you do if you lose your job in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

Unemployment benefits are meant as a temporary income for anyone who has lost their job through no fault of their own. To receive the money, you must be situated in the Netherlands, and you must be willing to take on any job position offered to you. 

You can apply for unemployment benefits online but will need to meet certain conditions, like working a minimum number of weeks prior to the dismissal and not becoming unemployed through your own fault.

Finally, you can start hunting for a new occupation. There are several Dutch websites, recruitment agencies, and platforms available for anyone looking for a job in the Netherlands

Could you benefit from some help navigating the Dutch job market? Undutchables has tons of experience with matching internationals in the Netherlands to new jobs. No matter your professional background, your (Dutch) language skills, and your work situation, Undutchables is primed and ready for you to find your new Dutch career adventure. 

If you feel like you need a little break from the whole job thing (and really, who can blame you?), you can also consider going back to studying. 

The Netherlands has some of the best universities in Europe, offering a great alternative for professionals looking to develop their skills, fill out their CV, or just start a new adventure after a job loss.

How will losing your job impact your Dutch visa? 

If your stay in the Netherlands depends on your employment, it might be even more stressful to lose your job for you than for Dutch people. 

However, nothing will happen to your residence permit overnight. If your employer dismisses you, you’ll still have a minimum of three months to search for a new job in the Netherlands. Depending on your visa, you might even get as much as five years.

READ MORE | Can I work in the Netherlands? Complete guide to work permits and visas to land a Dutch job

How the 30% ruling is affected if you lose your Dutch job

The 30% ruling is a tax break for highly-skilled expats and internationals to attract them to work in the Netherlands (where the cost of living might be higher than they’re used to). 

The 30% ruling will thankfully not be snatched away immediately if you find yourself jobless in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

If you lose your job in the Netherlands, you generally lose your 30% ruling benefits too. However, if you manage to sign a contract for new employment within three months of your dismissal, your 30% ruling will stay in effect for the remaining duration of the arrangement, as long as you submit a new application. 

In other words, if you get a new job within three months of losing your old job, nothing changes with regard to your 30% benefits, but you will have to apply for the benefits again. 

There is one small catch, however. Since a 30% ruling application can only be submitted by the employer and the employee jointly, you are, to some extent, at the mercy of your (new) boss to get the benefits. So, if your employer doesn’t want to make an effort to give you a tax break, you’re not entitled by law to get it. 

Losing your job in the Netherlands can be a stressful experience, but there are many solutions available to soften the blow, ease the transition, and carry you safely through it all. 

Do you have useful experiences with job loss in the Netherlands? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Losing your job in the Netherlands: Frequently asked questions

What happens if I lose my job in Netherlands?

How long can I stay in the Netherlands if I lose my job?

How long can you stay on unemployment in the Netherlands?

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.

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  1. Hi, I’m wondering about the probation period and unemployment benefit. So imagining you have a permanent contract in a job and you’ve been working there for 2 years already and you decide to change jobs so you quit and right away you start working your new job. In your new job you have a 7 month contract with 1 month trial period. In the very last day of your trial period this new company lets you know that they can’t pay another employee and they fire you. Are you entitled to unemployment benefit in this case?

  2. What if I have a permanent contract and worked for many years at a company with which is part of a bigger firm closing their business in the Netherlands?
    What happens if I don’t agree with their social plan and go to court? What are the UWV rules in this case?


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