How a Dutch employer fires you ‘zo makkelijk’

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A permanent contract with a Dutch employer and your life is secured? Think again!

The first step is to give you an official warning. They need to make sure they have at least 2 warnings to go to the court. But this might take time or may still not work. So they will play their trump card, there is mistrust, let us go for a 3rd party mediation!

You think you are being given a fair chance to talk openly and freely. But sorry, you are being taken for a ride! You will have 2 options. 1) bring your own mediator 2) they will bring their mediator. It does not matter what you choose, you will get fired anyway! Why? Because both parties must agree in writing that everything discussed in the mediation meeting will remain a secret. This cannot be revealed even in court. So the employer does nothing but simply sit through the meeting.

mediation

In the first meeting, nothing happens. And there will be a second meeting where you will be provided information about compensation for leaving peacefully. But you are not interested in it. After a week the conclusion will be that the trust is broken and that the employer cannot continue with the employee. And with this, the company approaches the court. In case you had denied a 3rd party mediation then they go to court adding that as a reason!

Court sitting will happen in a small room. Employer and their lawyer, you and your lawyer will be present. And there will be 2 judges(one judge does nothing but appears to be listening). Maybe there will be a student/trainee watching the whole conversation sitting behind you. The judges will have a rough idea of the case. And it could be that the judge(who is in charge) has already decided in his mind whom to punish. But you never know.

Court

Now the hearing begins.¬† Both jurists will start saying their part of the story. This is the moment when you feel proud and safe that there is someone to support you, to tell your side of the story, to fight for you. But hold on! A short flashback to your relationship with your lawyer is necessary before we continue ūüôā

How did the employer get their lawyer in the first place? Simple! they have legal insurance(DAS, ARAG, Centraal Beheer). These companies provide a single point of contact. So one person always knows their problems and can help them easily. And where did you get your lawyer? You have legal insurance too as an employee(same companies as above). You should have taken this on your own(employer will not ask you to or do it for you :P) and it costs like 15 euros or so per month(and there might be an ‘own risk’ factor and no additional cost). If for some strange reason you forgot to take this insurance, then you would have found a jurist on your own. In which case the whole episode will cost you around 2500 euros.

Lawyer

Lawyers are divided into 2 in the Netherlands, namely ‘advocaat'(senior) and ‘jurist'(junior). The employer first goes to the sub-district court. And here, you only need a ‘jurist’. You are also free to argue on your own at the court with the help of a translator(the judge might also allow without the translator).

So you have your jurist now and you are set to start your case! Let us name your jurist Linda. How would you tell her your story? Well .. Linda has sent you an email asking you explain your side of the story. But you wanted to talk to her first and explain a bit and ask some questions. But she insists that you write it down and then ask questions on top of that. There are two possibilities for this reaction:

1) Linda is super busy because legal insurance companies have a lot of clients(individuals and companies). They make money from serving as many clients as possible.

2) Or it could be that Linda just wants to approach it in a systematic way. While writing it down, things get more clear for you. It will be easy to talk to Linda referring to the points on the document.

So you write everything down in an email and send it to Linda. Days go by and no response from Linda. One day Linda sends you an email! She says the date to submit the case at the court has arrived and want you to verify the case statements she has prepared. You look into it and want to talk to her about some changes. Linda insists that you send it in writing as a reply to the email.  There are two possibilities for this reaction :P, which are given below:

  1. Linda, at the moment, has no clue about your case. She had outsourced it to a cheap trainee student who read your statements, translated and converted it into a court case. If you agree then it will be confirmed. If not the same trainee keeps adjusting it till it gets confirmed through the email replies you send. And then the trainee might do a knowledge transfer to Linda.
  2. Linda herself prepared the case, talking to you and changing it herself will lead to further conflicts between you and Linda. You would say, “I said this and you wrote that”. Since you are communicating everything in emails, there is no chance of a conflict. Clarity in communication between a lawyer and client is of prime importance and Linda is doing it to perfection! So far so good!

 

~ to be continued

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Pok√©mon walk in Amsterdam top spots!

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A walk along the historic row houses and enchanting canals is a dream for every traveler. That possibility just got double the excitement with Pokémon exploration!

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It is an overwhelming experience the first time you enter Amsterdam for Pok√©mons. Amsterdam turning red with showering lures ‚Ķ canals lined with pokestops‚Ķ lovely sight it is! These are the places you shouldn’t miss.

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Leidseplein always has 2¬†Lures running and is the top stop to¬†catch them. Also in vondelpark(next to Leidseplein) near the Iamsterdam boarding, 3 lures running all the time!¬†Though in rembrandt plein it is more near to the Pathe movies. A good tip would to choose the tiny¬†oriental restaurant next to Pathe Munt for refreshment or lunch¬†“inside” a lure kept by Pathe Munt(apparently).

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Another must visit spot in Amsterdam is Bijlmer Arena infront of Heineken Music Hall. Media market and Decathlon(heard from the locals) has 3 lures minimum running all the time. With some street-football like competitions going on , the whole of multi cultural Amsterdam can be experienced here. Not to mention the foodstalls in Bijlmer Plein.

If a place away from bulidings is what you like then Sloterpark (last stop tram 7, Amsterdam Nieuw-West) is a great spot for a walk around a small lake. And you are supposed to chat someone there about your best Pokemon catch!

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For expats there is no better time to integrate with the social connection this ‘sport’ brings. Living or staying in Amsterdam now has a new meaning. Just a small stroll near the canal can boost your XP to a new level. Most gyms in Amsterdam have¬†heavy CPs. Not surprised at all to see the Gold Gym level 3 near Liedseplein. With such concentration of Pokestops in so little space, there is no better city than Amsterdam¬†for Pok√©mon exploration!

Join the fun and register for Pokémon GO events in Amsterdam : Pokémon community Amsterdam. Also in Rotterdam & Eindhoven

Why do Indian-looking kids always win the National Spelling Bee?

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Even though the kids are Indian-looking they are American kids. Talking about the achievements of kids,  I saw a  11 year old child in the Netherlands with a six pack. It was a spring board diving school. Why did the child decide to do such hard work to get so much muscles at such a young age? Russians are so good in Gymnastics. When did Russian children decide to learn gymnastics? Answer is simple, influence of society and parents.

The parents of most of these American children winning spelling bee are of Indian origin. Common sense should tell us that these children would not be back-benchers in school syllabus either. Why is that? If we look at the history of India, Indians always had a craving for knowledge. Why else would somebody write down about sex in leaves and preserve it for generations to come? In Kamasutra the author even tells about the pleasure in slapping one another. And also about threesomes. A guy, the author¬†certainly was ¬†ūüėČ but the point being ‚Ķ not only was the knowledge preserved but also was there a passion for perfection and completion of knowledge in question. And Kamasutra¬†is just another work by ancient Indians that makes sense to westerners.

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This thrive for perfection can be seen in these children. What if we relate them to their counterparts in India? One major difference between a western child and a child living in India is the room temperature(yes, the temperature inside the room) that these children are provided to do the things they like. If Indian children are provided the same comfortable room temperature then they will exceed better than anyone else. This win by Americans prove just that! [Other basic necessities are met for Indian children, as in they are not starving(for food) like they used to, but room temperature is a major difference in 2016.]

study Room

Some might see these American kids as migrants but the truth is, these kids are neither told nor treated as migrants. They are proud and bright daughters & sons of America. This event infact is a win for the spirit of United States of America. Such ‚Äėimmigrant/outsider‚Äô thoughts arises from aged human beings who would want to continue the old tradition they preach. The best thing we could do is to remind them about areas¬†such children do not excel, like athletics for example, as it consoles or ‚Äėheals‚Äô them.¬†Even though you won‚Äôt talk about academic performance of Olympians or their parents or their ancestry.

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Moreover Indian kids are aware of the benefits early morning calmness. Religions arising out of Indian geography promotes early wake up . Eg: “Brahma-muhurtha” is the time when you can be at the heights of your creativity. It is approx 1:30 hrs before¬†sunrise. Children are taught by their parents to use this time to study. Everyone in the country knows the benefits of meditation and yoga.

So in short, the great Indian tradition of learning and an appetite for perfection in knowledge is the reason for this victory by Americans in spelling bee. And spelling bee just happened to be another knowledge area where Americans excel. It is no wonder that it is these same Americans that lead major business establishments that value knowledge. Nor is it surprising to see a saree clad middle aged humble-looking Indian woman becoming the powerhouse of space technology.

Finally let us not forget to spare a thought for the examiners who patiently pronounces the words and cheer those little gems¬†up. And of course, congratulations to the winners and¬†good luck in your next high-spirited adventure! On a lighter note , hope us mere mortals‚Äô racist-fact-finding-mission ūüôā did not let you down. Please bear with us.

Hockey win or lose, Indians are non-Proactive, says Dutch IT gurus

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After the defeat of Dutch team to Indian Hockey team, Dutch IT gurus called for a quick emergency meeting Sunday night. “Have Indians become proactive?” was the question on everyone‚Äôs face. “We all know Indian employees are not proactive. But lately we are getting signs that their proactiveness level is increasing” said the chairman. Not surprisingly there was a huge uproar among the members. “This is absurd! Hockey and IT is very different” said one member. “Kom op, even yesterday we used the PET on Indian employees and it showed same status as last time, 0 proactive units”

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The discussion went on for 30 more minutes and after a quick¬†vote, it was concluded that the Indian employees remain as non-proactive. Chairman also said that the existing guard set on the LinkedIn profile of Indian employees will remain the same. Meeting was adjourned¬†and the IT crowd left happy¬†“Mooi, prachtig conclusie! ” said one of the members to the press reporters waiting outside. The next day was the press meet.

Monday sharp 08:00 the press meet began in The Hague. “We are happy to announce that there is no change to the Indian employees status in spite of our Hockey loss”. To a huge applause chairman continued “But 11 Indian hockey players will be exempted from this list for the first time in history!‚Ä̬†silence fell over the meeting room.¬† A reporter reminded of the hockey support staff and also about the Indian cricket team. “Okay, we can include 3 support staff and the same for cricket team so that would be 28 Indians who are recognized by the Dutch as proactive”.

An international reporter asked “On what basis you say Indians are non-proactive? How do you measure proactiveness?” Chairman said the decision was made based on PET done in some companies.”PET stands for Proactiveness Evaluation Tool. We apply this tool on the belly button of the employees. If the tool shows green then the person is proactive. Red indicates non-proactive. We also¬†input nationality of the employee before the¬†test. Mooi eh?”. The reporter then asked about the employees working in other countries. “Then the employees can show their belly button to the web cam, our intelligent tool can pick it up”. Dutch IT workers cheered “hipperdepip”… “hurray” “hipperdepip… hurray”

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Chairman said Indian employees need to be reminded of a particular ‚ÄúHeineken story‚ÄĚ to teach them about pro-activeness and old daily wage system. Chairman then said that on LinkedIn profile, none of the Indian employees will be given recommendations. Worst-case if that happens then the word “proactive” will not be mentioned. Chairman said they will deploy crawlers to search for recommendations and any Dutch IT employee doing the same will be prosecuted. ‚ÄúAbsolutely no recommendations?‚ÄĚ asked a reporter ‚ÄúNee, absolute, super, helemaal niet‚ÄĚ. Chairman‚Äôs face got red… hands started to tremble. Someone quickly removed the glass from the table‚Ķ crowd went berserk‚Ķ and then chairman started ‚ÄúNein Nein Nein Nein‚ÄĚ

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Meeting got over and Indian expats gathered for the press meet met the chairman and congratulated “This is good progress of 0.00001%, sir thank you. We have seen many caste systems but proactive caste system is the first. Thank you sir, thank you very much, thank you, thank you”

One of the Indian expat leaving the meet told the reporter “You know… Dutch are very tolerant people… It is a good sign some Indians are recognized as proactive”. Reporter then asked “Is that what you really think about this press meet?‚ÄĚ. Indian then continued “Yes, my colleagues are all nice people … I love going to my office every….” Reporter interrupted “Okay stop, is that what you really, really, really think?‚ÄĚ This time the Indian’s smile disappeared… eyes narrowed to slits ..fingers clenched..¬†“Tolerant? Tolerant my foot! Stupid chairman and his IT shingidis! They think we are second class. You know what?¬†this country is a mental asylum of preconceptions. Trust me I am telling you .. you know .. I am telling you….you know”.

[Okay, hope you liked the story¬†ūüôā . It happens rarely but there had been instances in my work-life when I had witnessed people getting insulted in the name of “pro-somethingness”. So¬†jokes apart, if you ever felt you are being harassed at work in the name of proactiveness then understand you are not alone. You may report this to authorities or Embassy.¬†If proactiveness can be¬†measured¬†then it should be stated how and applied¬†to all employees equally ]¬†

Dreaded Lunch Conversations!

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Slight anxiety started to appear as I sat with a colleague for lunch. A westerner he was. One of us had¬†to start a conversation. What should I talk about? It shouldn’t be about work. There is a killer topic: Indian food vs western. But I have done that a thousand times, this cultural comparison… not again! I wish he came up with a topic instead¬†:). So many things in this world to talk about but right now, I just cannot think of any! And this bread and cheese combination¬†is so dry to eat.

Lunch

It all came so natural while I was in India. Every lunch was a pleasurable and memorable experience. Now when I think of it, every day we used to have a¬†different wonderful lunch conversation. It didn’t matter who we were with it always was enjoyable. Now after coming to this western world, that has been taken away from me. And I am sure my western colleagues are all enjoying lunch time¬†the same way I used to enjoy back then. I made a plan‚Ķ a plan to bring the most wonderful time of my day back to life again!

I made a page in OneNote titled “Lunch Conversation Topics” (LCT). A shortcut of the page was put on the smartphone home screen. That day while going to the coffee machine I saw a boarding kept on the floor.¬†A different logo of our company was seen on it¬†and I took a note of it in LCT. And later during the lunch, I secretly flipped the phone and¬†“hey, you know I was surprised to see this logo‚Ķ.”. It was actually our company’s old logo and that conversation caught on and we talked about the history of the company and some old colleagues, some old outings and a lot more. The whole lunch conversation that day was centered around this topic and you can understand how thrilled I was for that contribution ūüėÄ

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Another time I took a note on LCT about Tour-de-France. The information I got from one lunch conversation was used to start another lunch conversation. Actually long cycle race was a boring affair to me but this is what I learned from all these conversations : Players bike as a team and team members take turn to bike in front of the main player when there is wind to save his energy. Same way the opponents might try to hide behind a player to save energy and it is funny to see them trying to expose them to the wind. So there were a lot of things fascinating about this sport and thanks to my lunches :).

And slowly these interesting things happened to me :-

  1. I could start a lunch conversation easily even without LCT.
  2. Every time someone started with Indian food topic to me(which I am fed up answering) I could tactfully deviate to a culture-neutral topic.
  3. My LCT also grew to accommodate separate¬†topics for elderly men, women, middle aged Dutch men and¬†young colleagues. Yes and they come handy once in a while¬†ūüôā
  4. Knowledge on western culture grew by leaps n bounds.
  5. Lunch conversation in India sometimes were emotional(laughter not included). But now I can converse with zero emotions.

To us Indian expats it is important to lunch with colleagues from local country or other expat colleagues. Lunching with Indian colleagues will be comfortable but¬†won’t enable us to learn the skill so this should be the last option(be tactful else you will be in politics trouble :P). It is beneficial to us if the conversation topics are not about India or the cultural difference there is. But for a westerner it might be interesting to talk about India and learn about India through us :). Who does not love India!

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To be effective in lunch conversations we need to find out the topics locals talk between themselves. Educate ourselves with these topics and try to blend into the conversations. For e.g.: If you are in Netherlands then you should be reading more nu.nl or tweakers.net (with google translate) by sacrificing  some of the time we spend on timesofindia or ndtv :). I know an American who used to talk about Indian politics and musical instruments during lunch in her one week stay in India. She chose politics because we used to talk that a lot. She chose musical instruments because she was passionate about that. That is what we call integration!

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It might sound unnatural and awkward to prepare for lunch conversations beforehand. But trust me, many things expats do are not traditional at all :). ¬†There are many Indians who excel in multi-cultural lunch conversations naturally and you could be one of them. But if you found it difficult like me then such ‘hacks’ might help. Being an expat is one thing and being a successful expat is something else. Successful expats re-invents themselves in difficult situations. Lunch conversations are an important aspect of our life no matter which part of the world we live in. The better lunch conversations we have the more natural we become ‚Ķ it is that simple! ūüôā

Finally a cheat sheet for western lunch conversation ūüôā

  • Mondays: “How was your weekend?”
  • Fridays: “What plans for weekend?”
  • Tue-Wed-Thu : If near holiday season(winter/summer/spring/autumn)=”Any vacation plans?”
  • Tue-Wed-Thu : If not near holiday season = Did you hear about (trending tech news)?
  • Any other Wednesday= “Can we remain silent? Because¬†I don’t talk on Wednesdays!” just kidding ūüėÄ

We now have very less days remaining with absolute no subjects to speak :D. Westerners are so much fun to be with ..bon appetit!

And a small gift¬†for next conversation ūüôā

 

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