Notice Periods and Termination of Employment Contracts: What Employees Need to Know

Facing the termination of your employment contract can be a daunting experience, but understanding your rights and obligations regarding notice periods is crucial. This comprehensive guide aims to equip you, as an employee in the Netherlands, with the knowledge you need to navigate the process smoothly, understand the importance of the notice period in dismissal, and protect your interests.

What is a Notice Period?

A notice period, the length of the notice period being crucial, is the amount of time an employee or employer must give in advance before terminating an employment contract. During this period, which mandates at least 1 month of notice, the employment relationship continues, and both parties must fulfill their contractual obligations. The notice period ensures a smooth transition and allows both parties to make necessary arrangements.

Statutory Notice Periods in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the statutory notice period, influenced by labour law, is determined by the length of your employment and is regulated by Dutch employment law. Generally, the longer you have been employed under a permanent employment contract, the longer the notice period. The minimum notice period is one month, but it can extend up to four months for employees with more than 10 years of service.

Notice Periods for Fixed-Term Contracts

If you are employed on a fixed-term contract, the notice period may differ from the statutory notice period for permanent contracts. In some cases, a fixed-term contract may not require a notice period at all, as the contract ends on the agreed-upon termination date. However, if the fixed-term contract has a duration of six months or longer, the employer must inform you at least one month before the end date if they do not intend to renew the contract.

When Does the Notice Period Start?

The notice period starts on the day the employee or employer gives written notice of termination. It is crucial that the notice is provided in writing and clearly states the termination date. Employers must also provide the reason for termination and any applicable compensation or benefits.

Can the Notice Period Be Extended or Shortened?

In certain circumstances, governed by labour law, the notice period can be extended or shortened. For example, a collective labor agreement or individual employment contract may specify a longer notice period. Conversely, during a probationary period, the notice period may be shorter or even waived entirely.

What if the Employer Doesn’t Observe the Notice Period?

If your employer fails to observe the required notice period of termination, they may be liable for damages. This could include payment of your salary and benefits for the duration of the notice period they failed to provide. It is essential to seek legal advice in such cases to ensure your rights are protected.

Termination by Mutual Consent

In some cases, an employer and employee may mutually agree to terminate the employment contract without observing the notice period. This process, known as termination by mutual consent and typically formalized through a settlement agreement, requires at least 1 month of notice for a fair dismissal.

Can I terminate my employment contract immediately?

Generally, no. You must observe the applicable notice period unless there are exceptional circumstances or a mutual agreement with your employer.

What happens if I find a new job during the notice period?

You are still obligated to work during the notice period, even if you have already secured new employment. However, your employer may agree to a shorter notice period or early release from your obligations, which may affect potential unemployment benefits.

Can I take my remaining vacation days during the notice period?

This depends on the terms of your employment contract and your employer’s policies. In some cases, you may be required to take any remaining vacation days during the notice period.


  • Notice periods are crucial for a smooth transition when terminating an employment contract in the Netherlands.
  • The statutory notice period, impacted by the length of the employment agreement, is determined by the length of your employment and can range from one to four months.
  • Fixed-term contracts may have different notice period requirements, and employers must provide advance notice if they do not intend to renew.
  • Both employers and employees must observe the applicable notice period, at least 1 month, or they may be liable for damages.
  • Seek legal advice if your employer fails to observe the required notice period or if you have any concerns about your rights and obligations.
  • In some cases, notice periods can be extended, shortened, or waived through mutual consent or collective labor agreements.

Remember, understanding and adhering to notice period requirements, a fundamental aspect of labour law, is essential for protecting your rights and ensuring a fair and lawful termination process as an employee in the Netherlands.