Unfortunately, getting fired during pregnancy is a nasty situation that some women have to face in the Netherlands. If your boss has handed you a dismissal letter when you are expecting, here you can learn everything about what to do and not do in this circumstance.
What Dutch law says about it
This means a company can’t terminate a fixed contract before this legal period is over under no circumstances.
Surprisingly enough, Human Resources departments do not always know about the dismissal law and do hand over dismissal agreements before legal periods are concluded. If that is your case, the first thing you need to do is never sign any paper before: you give birth, your maternity leave is over and six weeks have passed after your leave. Signing the agreement before legal periods can have serious consequences for employees, such as losing unemployment benefits.
Once you have been informed about your dismissal, the next step will be seeking legal advice in order to make sure your dismissal follows the law.
Where to find free legal advice
In the Netherlands, there is a state organization that provides citizens with legal advice for free. This organization is Juridish Loket (Stationsplein 70, 2011 LM Haarlem). Here you can find all the legal advice that you need; they will solve all your questions and check your dismissal agreement for you.
- Making an appointment with Juridish Loket (0900-8020): Monday-Friday 09.00 to 18.00. They will probably make your appointment within a week.
- Attending your appointment and taking these documents with you: ID, working contact and Employee Guide (if your company has one), dismissal letters or emails where they inform you about your dismissal.
Your legal advisor will go over your contract and let you know how the dismissal needs to be executed according to the law. He will also inform you about legal periods. After the appointment, he will write a legal report with all the information for you. Once the legal periods are done, a new appointment will be made to look over the dismissal letter. They will check everything is correct before you sign.
Negotiating dismissal with your company
Although some companies want to initiate negotiations when you are still pregnant or when you’re on maternity leave, you don’t have to. The best thing you can do is let them know you won’t discuss anything related to your dismissal until legal periods are concluded. If they keep pressuring you, ask somebody to be your interlocutor (your partner, for example). The last thing you need to worry about when you are becoming a mum is work, so don’t let them spoil that unique moment and put extra stress on you.
If you think your dismissal can be a discrimination case, Juridisch Loket will inform you about the different associations that can help you.
When dismissal can take place
As I said, the law establishes some legal periods that every company needs to respect when firing a pregnant woman. Once those periods are concluded, the company will have the right to hand over a dismissal letter to the employee.
Here you have a practical example to better understand legal periods for dismissal during pregnancy:
My due date is 28th August 2018.
In the Netherlands pregnant woman are entitled to 16 weeks paid maternity leave, and I decided to start my maternity leave 4 weeks before due date (31st July 2018).
My maternity leave ends on the 22nd of November 2018. After 6 weeks (2nd January 2019), my company will be allowed to send me my dismissal letter. If your contract includes a notice period (for example, one calendar month), that period will have to be taken into account. In this case, I would stop working for my company 1st March 2019. Until then, my company will have to keep my position and salary.
I hope this information can help you in case of dismissal during pregnancy. Make sure you get the best legal advice before signing any papers and don’t let any job or company to ruin one of the most important events in your life, becoming a mum.