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).
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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