Under Dutch dismissal law, an employer must get permission from either a judge or the Labour office before it can end  an employment relationship. This system has been the subject of much criticism in the past, with some feeling that it unreasonably fetters the employer's ability to organize its business as it sees fit. Moreover, it is hard to understand the need for two distinct routes to obtaining permission, with considerable variations in procedure and cost between the two.

Change is now on the agenda. There appears to be a majority in Parliament in favour of introducing a right for the employer to terminate employment without prior permission, with the employee being able to challenge the dismissal if it is felt to be unjust. A legislative proposal to that effect has been submitted to the House of Representatives.

Other subjects under discussion include severance payments and unemployment benefits. The intention is that severance payments will be replaced by a so called transition budget for all employees (whether permanent or temporary) whose employment is terminated . The transition budget will be capped at an amount equal to 6 months' salary. Furthermore, it is intended that the employer will be responsible for paying unemployment benefits to employees who are dismissed for up to 6 months.

Further details of the proposed changes will be revealed later this year, when we can expect the issues will be the subject of extensive debate.