Expert Legal Support for Your Wage Claim – Dutch Employment Law Firm

If you are in paid employment, your employer is obligated to pay your wages periodically, typically monthly or every four weeks. While this process generally proceeds smoothly, there may be instances where you have a wage claim against your employer. Such situations could arise from dismissal, illness-related absenteeism, or disputes with your employer. It’s also possible for an employer to withhold your salary after resignation or termination. For legal assistance, please contact us.

Unpaid Wages and Employer Non-Payment

Should your employer refuse to pay your salary without valid reason, they are in breach of contract, and you may initiate a wage claim. Legally, there are very few justifications for withholding salary payments. An employer can suspend payment if you refuse to work or fail to participate in a reintegration process after illness, but these are exceptional circumstances. Some employers might withhold wages as a form of leverage, though this is rarely upheld by judges. Using salary suspension to pressure employees is unquestionably unprofessional, making it all the more important to contest such practices.

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A Wage Claim After Dismissal

If you resign or are dismissed, your employer is required to pay your salary through the last day before your resignation or dismissal takes effect. You are also entitled to wages for the outstanding period if you are summarily dismissed due to your own culpable behavior. Your final wages after termination should include not only the salary for the current pay period but also any accrued holiday pay, a 13th-month salary, or other periodic benefits. Additionally, any unused vacation hours should be compensated. Your employer is obligated to provide you with a final pay statement within a reasonable timeframe, ideally on the date your regular salary would have been due had the dismissal not occurred.

A Wage Claim in the Event of Illness

By law, if you become ill, your employer must continue to pay your salary for up to two years from the date you report your illness. Under no circumstance is it permissible for your employer to halt these payments, even if they believe you are not actually ill and should return to work. The only exception to this is if an independent occupational health physician determines that you are fit for work and you still refuse to resume your duties. In such cases, your employer is required to provide advance notice of its intention to suspend salary payments if you do not return to work by a specified date. Should your employer cease salary payments regardless, you can present this wage claim related to illness to our firm, and we can issue a letter on your behalf demanding the unpaid wages.

A Wage Claim After Bankruptcy

In the unfortunate event that your employer declares bankruptcy, they may be unable to pay your salary up to the moment of dismissal. In such instances, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) in the Netherlands may take over the payment of wages during a suspension of payment or if the final salary period cannot be covered post-bankruptcy. However, if you have an older wage claim due to your employer’s prior failure to fulfill payment obligations, you must file this as a claim in the bankruptcy proceedings. It is crucial to seek proper legal assistance if you find yourself in this situation.

Understanding the Settlement Agreement

When an employer intends to terminate an employee, a settlement agreement is commonly drafted. This document outlines the terms of the employment contract’s termination. It includes details such as any remaining salary due during the notice period, whether the employee will continue working during this period, and the nature of any remaining duties. These duties might include completing ongoing projects or handing over tasks. The settlement agreement should also specify any additional payments to be made, which can include not only the salary but also holiday pay, accrued leave hours, profit-sharing, or other forms of bonuses. Settlement agreements are also frequently utilized in the resolution of labor disputes.

The Settlement Agreement in the Event of Illness

If you are home ill, your employer may propose to terminate the employment contract via a settlement agreement. This approach is generally not advisable. Signing such an agreement can often result in the loss of eligibility for disability insurance benefits, particularly if it is later determined that you are unable to return to work due to full or partial disability. Therefore, if you are ill, you should never feel compelled to sign a settlement agreement. Moreover, if you are considering this option, always ensure that the agreement is reviewed by a professional with expertise in employment law.

Wage Claim Following a Workplace Dispute

In the event of a workplace conflict, it is common practice to be placed on suspension. This means you are barred from accessing your workplace and, as a result, unable to perform your duties. During a labor dispute, it’s crucial to inform your employer of your readiness to return to work at the earliest opportunity. This demonstration of your willingness to work ensures that your employer cannot fault you for the suspension or for not having made contact since being sent home. A responsible employer or HR officer should also maintain communication with an employee who is under suspension. Should the dispute lead to the dissolution of the employment contract, your employer is obligated to pay your wages up until the termination date of the contract.

Wage Claim in the Case of Summary Dismissal

Being summarily dismissed for serious misconduct does not absolve your employer of the obligation to pay your salary up to the date of dismissal. For instance, if you are dismissed on the 16th of the month, your employer is still required to pay your wages for the period from the 1st to the 15th of the month. Additionally, any accrued holiday pay or a 13th-month bonus must also be paid out to you. Should your employer refuse to make these payments, you have the right to contest the decision with the support of our legal team.

Statute of Limitations on Wage Claims

Wage claims are subject to a statute of limitations of five years. This makes it crucial to act promptly if you suspect that you are owed back wages. If your employer fails to pay your salary, or if you have been underpaid, it is important to address the issue as quickly as possible. In adjudicating such cases, a judge will consider the timeliness of your response upon discovering the discrepancy in your wages. Delaying action for a year or more without a valid reason may result in a reduced settlement by the court. While an employer may be liable for penalties and interest on unpaid wages, the court has the discretion to decrease the penalty amount if there are grounds to do so.

Preservation of Relevant Documentation is Key to a Wage Claim

The success of a wage claim hinges on the ability to present supporting documentation. If you have a wage claim against your employer and aim to pursue it, it’s essential to gather all pertinent documents that could serve as evidence to substantiate your claim. Such documents include:

  • The most recent pay stubs, at the very least the last one.
  • Your employment contract.
  • A record of unused vacation hours.
  • The Collective Labor Agreement (CLA), if applicable.
  • Proof of any mutual agreements made with your employer, such as those regarding overtime or bonuses.
  • Any correspondence with your employer concerning the wage dispute.

Providing these documents, where relevant, enables us to promptly address your wage claim, seeking a resolution through negotiation or litigation if necessary. Are you in need of assistance because you have a wage claim against your current or former employer?  Please contact us so that we can help you immediately.