Following the resignation of the Dutch government, the lower chamber of Parliament drew up a list of subjects that had been declared "controversial", meaning that no further action will be taken on those subjects until after a new government has been formed.

Bills that have not been declared "controversial" will continue to be handled by Parliament and the caretaker government. In connection with the above decision, here is an update on the status of three bills relating to the area of employment law.

Declared "controversial"

Bill no. 31 862: Ceiling on severance payments

Under this bill, a limit is to be set for the amount of severance pay that can be granted by a court upon the rescission of an employment contract pursuant to Article 7:685 of the Dutch Civil Code. For employees with an annual salary of EUR 75,000 or more, the maximum amount will be one year's salary. However, exceptions will be allowed where the amount resulting from the application of the above rule would be unacceptable under the criteria of reasonableness and fairness.

Bill no. 31 832: Amendment definition of discrimination

This bill provides for the amendment of the definitions of direct and indirect discrimination in the relevant Dutch legislation to bring them in line with the terminology used in EU Directive 2000/78/EC. The term "indirect discrimination" will have an independent definition, instead of being defined merely as discrimination that does not constitute direct discrimination but that results in direct discrimination.

Not declared "controversial"

Bill no. 32 058: Temporary extension maximum duration of fixed-term contracts

Under this bill, employers will be allowed to employ individuals below the age of 27 on a fixed-term employment contract (i.e. a contract for a definite period) for a longer time. To this end, Article 7:668a of the Dutch Civil Code will be amended to provide that, in the case of such employees, a permanent contract (i.e. a contract for an indefinite period) will come into existence after 48 months, instead of 36 months. This measure will probably terminate on 1 January 2012.

The bill is currently before the upper chamber of Parliament, having been passed by the lower chamber on 16 February 2010. The relevant committee of the upper chamber has issued its provisional report following a preparatory examination of the bill, and is now awaiting the government's reply. It is not yet known when the new rules can be expected to enter into force.