Corona crisis as economic reason for dismissal

Blijdorp Zoo wants to terminate the employment contracts of a number of employees on the basis of economic reasons, due to the corona crisis and the financial consequences this has for the zoo. The employees in question do not agree. Who is right?

On 8 March 2020 Blijdorp presented the Masterplan Blijdorp 2030. This plan contains the plans and ambitions of Blijdorp for the next ten years. From mid-March 2020 onwards Blijdorp had to deal with several measures due to the coronapandemic, including three closures of the zoo for a total of approximately eight months, a (partial) closure of the catering facilities and a restriction of the number of visitors. Blijdorp asked the municipality of Rotterdam for financial assistance. The municipality provided Blijdorp with a loan of €10 million for a period of 20 years on condition that Blijdorp would reduce its annual costs by €3.75 million. Blijdorp asked the Works Council for advice on its proposed reorganisation. On 4 February 2021, Blijdorp took the decision, in accordance with the advice of the works council, to implement the Implementation Plan of the reorganisation of the Management Board and Day Visits & Events departments. On 4 February 2021, Blijdorp submitted a request for dismissal permit to the UWV for (amongst others) employees X and Y, on the basis of business economic reasons. Employee X and Y put forward a defence. By decision of 16 April 2021, the UWV granted Blijdorp permission to terminate the employment contracts with employees X and Y. Employees request reinstatement of the employment contract.

The parties disagree as to whether there is an economic necessity to shed the jobs of employees X and Y. The parties agree that Blijdorp should have terminated the employment contracts with employees X and Y. The parties agree that Blijdorp should have terminated the employment contracts with employees X and Y. The parties agree that Blijdorp was in good financial shape at the end of 2019, as can also be seen from the 2019 annual report, and that from March 2020 Blijdorp was severely affected by the consequences of the corona crisis. Blijdorp and the municipality agreed that, in principle, Blijdorp will repay the borrowed amount within twenty years and that Blijdorp will cut its costs by €3.75 million per year (15%). It follows from the foregoing that Blijdorp is faced with economic circumstances which required it to take measures to safeguard the future of the zoo and that it could reasonably decide to shed the positions of employees X and Y. The parties agree that there is no possibility of re-employing employees X and Y in another position within a reasonable period of time.

Under these circumstances, the UWV was right to authorise the dismissal and there is no ground to reinstate the employment contracts. This means that the requests from employee X and Y are rejected.

Do you have any questions about this judgment or do you have any other questions about dismissal, for example for economic reasons? SPEE advocaten & mediation will be happy to assist you.

SPEE advocaten & mediation Maastricht