Part 2: Firing employees in the Netherlands

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Even though you wanted to talk to Linda, it did not happen. And the day came when you were at the court. Linda asked you to come early to have a quick chat. Linda appears to be a young girl and not a veteran lawyer as you thought. Linda started to explain the process.

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The judge will hear the explanations from both lawyers. And then the judge will give a clue what his decision is going to be. He then would let both parties settle it themselves for 5-10 mins outside the court. We go back inside, if still not settled then the judge will announce his decision after a week or two.

Linda then tells me something that puzzled me. As an employee whom the employer wants to fire, you cannot say anything against the employer. You need to prove that you can get along well. Because you want to continue working for the company. This arose a lot of questions

  • An employee is in an awkward position if it reaches here. Cannot accuse employer, he might hate the employer but needs to prove he likes to continue working there.
  • The employer cannot be accused of anything.
  • Linda doesn’t need to spend time learning the case, she can just state a few general points and that is it!

So the session started. Judge first asked the employer jurist to state their viewpoint. He did. And then it was our turn. Linda started to speak. She said a few lines.. a summary and core points. She wanted to mention a particular line from the case file, but could not find it.

 

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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!

There could be conflicts arising out of work. And the employer can willfully create options to fire you. Let us examine one such scenario where the employer is trying to fire you. Keep in mind that the employer has legal insurance. You as an employee should also have legal insurance (explained later).

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 some time or may still not work. So they will probe for your reaction or the past performances. Their aim will be to play their trump card at this stage: 3rd party mediation arising out of mistrust!

So there is a conflict going on and 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. You are advised to bring your own mediator to make the employer talk. In this scenario, the employer brings the mediator. The mediator is from the same legal insurance firm of the employer (this is unfair in itself).

mediation

In the first meeting, nothing happens. And there will be a second meeting(to prove they are trying hard) nothing happens here too! This second meeting could be a time when the employer can discuss compensation to leave the company. After a week, the official 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 🙂

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(but there will be an ‘own risk’ factor). 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). One strange suggestion to consider would be, hire a jurist, but argue the case on your own.

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 to 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 with limited employees.

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 at the final document 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

Pokémon 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 Pokémons. Amsterdam turning red with showering lures … canals lined with pokestops… 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 Pokémon 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  😉 but the point being … 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 ‘immigrant/outsider’ 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 ‘heals’ them. Even though you won’t 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’ racist-fact-finding-mission 🙂 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’s 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”

ProactivLekker

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!” 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 “Heineken story” 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. “Absolutely no recommendations?” asked a reporter “Nee, absolute, super, helemaal niet”. Chairman’s face got red… hands started to tremble. Someone quickly removed the glass from the table… crowd went berserk… and then chairman started “Nein Nein Nein Nein”

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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?”. 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?” 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 🙂 . 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 ]