What are my legal rights and obligations when I have a temporary employment contract?
A temporary contract has a start date and an end date. The contract will end on the agreed date, though the employer is required to inform you in writing if the contract will be renewed at least one month before the end date. We strongly advise you to make sure that you get a contract in writing, although a verbal agreement is also valid in the Netherlands. The employer is obliged to inform you in writing of the main items covered in the contract within one month after the start of the contract. Within legal limits, both employers and employees are free to decide what will be covered by the contract.
Proeftijd (trial period)
A trial period is a common part of a temporary contract with an employer. The trial period applies for both parties and must be agreed in writing. If the duration of the temporary contract is less than two years, the maximum trial period is one month. Exceptions can only be made when a Collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO (collective labour agreement) applies. The legal maximum trial period for a permanent contract or a temporary contract of two or more years is two months, with no possibility of extension. Temporary contracts of six months or less cannot have trial periods. Also, a trial period is not valid if the employee is carrying out work that he or she has previously done elsewhere in the company. You can be dismissed during your trial period. Your employer need not give a reason. You also have the right to quit your job without notice or explanation during the trial period, since the trial period goes both ways.
An employer is not allowed to include a non-compete clause in a temporary contract. A rare exception can be made if the employer can prove a compelling business interest. This reason should be explicitly mentioned in the contract, along with a statement on the context in which the non-compete clause would apply.
Term of notice
A temporary labour contract will end automatically and legally on the date agreed. For temporary contracts of six months or more, the employer must notify the employee in writing whether the contract will be renewed, and under what terms and conditions, at least one month before the temporary contract is set to end. The situation changes if one party wants to end the contract before the agreed date. In this case, the option for termination of the contract before the final date must be part of the contract. If the employer wants to end the contract before the date agreed, he or she needs to follow a legal dismissal procedure. You should contact the UWV Werkbedrijf for further information.
Repeated contracts with the same employer
When you have had three consecutive contracts with the same employer, the fourth contract is automatically a permanent contract, unless there has been a period of at least six months between the three contracts. If you have had a chain of temporary contracts, with less than six months between them, from an employer for 24 months or more, your contract automatically converts into a permanent one.