An employer can terminate an employment contract with immediate effect, also called summary dismissal, when there is an ‘urgent reason’ to do so. The intervention of a court or the UWV is not required. However, there are a number of criteria that must be met to be able to proceed to summary dismissal.
With summary dismissal, you terminate your employee’s employment contract immediately, without notice. You can only do this if you believe your employee has done something very serious. A frequently cited example is when your employee has stolen from you. This type of dismissal, which has major consequences for the employee, requires that many conditions are met. These are discussed below.
For a summary dismissal, you must have an urgent reason. This means that the dismissal cannot be delayed because it cannot be expected of the employer to allow the employment contract to continue. Examples include:
- Refusal to carry out the work
- Assault or offensive behaviour
The urgent reason should also be weighed against the circumstances of the case. This includes, for example, the culture of your company, how long the employee has been employed by you and how such situations have been handled before.
If you want to summarily dismiss your employee, you must dismiss him or her without delay. This means that you dismiss the employee instantly and give the urgent reason for the dismissal. If you are not (yet) sure whether there is an urgent reason for the dismissal, an investigation can be conducted. However, this should be done with urgency. It is advisable to suspend the employee while you are conducting the investigation.
How to act
If you want to summarily dismiss an employee, it is important to follow the following procedure. First, it is advisable to send your employee a formal letter (by registered mail), to inform the employee that you are summarily dismissing him/her, stating the reasons why. This will prevent any ambiguity. After all, you can prove that you have sent the letter, and the employee – especially in the case of registered mail – cannot argue that the letter was not received.
In addition, if the urgent reason for dismissal is based on intent or misconduct of the employee, you are entitled to claim damages from him or her. This compensation is at most the salary you would have paid if you had taken the notice period into account.
Finally, you can request the dismissal from the subdistrict court. This serves as a final step to avoid any legal action by the employee, in which the subdistrict court could judge that there is no urgent cause, with the outcome that you would be required to continue paying the employee’s wages.
If the employee disagrees with the summary dismissal, he or she must take legal action within two months. If in such proceedings an employee is found to be in the right and the summary dismissal is found to be invalid, the notice of dismissal will be annulled and the employee will be able to request salary payment for the entire period between the summary dismissal and the ruling. Because the legal procedure and getting it started often does take some time, the claim for payment of wages can add up considerably. To minimise this risk somewhat, it is always advisable to submit a conditional rescission request in such a situation. If the judge is of the opinion that the summary dismissal is not legally valid, he will accede to this request. However, in that case there is a good chance that the judge will award the employee a substantial, fair compensation. Incidentally, the employee may also choose not to request annulment of the dismissal, but to ask the court to award fair compensation. If you are dealing with a potential summary dismissal, it would be advisable to contact one of our specialists to minimise the aforementioned risks.