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Netherlands – Employers in favour of relaxing dismissal conditions

22 August 2012

According to a survey conducted on behalf of the Dutch television program EénVandaag two thirds of Dutch employers would be keener to hire permanent staff if it was easier to dismiss them,

The study was conducted amongst 27,000 people, 755 describing themselves as employers and 10,000 as employees. Not surprisingly, two thirds of the latter declared themselves opposed to any relaxation of conditions of dismissal.

The survey sought to take the pulse on a topic that made the headline in June this year, when Minister of Social Affairs Henk Kamp signed the so-called Spring Agreement with the ruling coalition parties (VVD, CDA, D66, Green party) and the Christian Union. The Spring Agreement provided outlines to relax the conditions for shedding permanent staff. The Minister argued that such a reform would increase the Dutch labour productivity by +0.4%, equivalent to 2.5 billion Euro. Henk Kamp is unlikely to submit a bill to the parliament before the coming parliamentary elections on 12 September.

The main employer organisation, the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW) backed the Minister of Social Affairs last June, and sought to reassure potential opponents: "a hire-and-fire policy does not fit with our principles". The organization representing the Dutch SMEs (MKB-Netherlands) is not opposed to the change per se, but believes the timing is inappropriate: at a time of rising unemployment, relaxing dismissal conditions may have damaging consequences.

The Spring Agreement also called for a reform of the Unemployment Insurance Act (WW). Employers would be responsible for paying the first six months of unemployment benefits, in order to incentivise employers to help dismissed workers finding a new job. Of course 51% of respondents believe this is a good idea, while only 6% of employers would agree. 

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