09 Oct 2017 Cross-border workers and entitlement to unemployment benefit
Other countries apply different or stricter requirements on unemployment benefit eligibility than we are used to in the Netherlands. Cross-border workers who are presented with a settlement agreement or termination agreement for signature should be very aware of this.
Most of the cross-border workers here in the Euregio live in Belgium or Germany.
To be eligible for unemployment benefit in Belgium, one of the conditions is that the employee cannot be blamed for becoming unemployed. This requirement is also stated in Dutch law. The difference, however, is that in the Netherlands an employee is also eligible for unemployment benefit if a termination agreement or settlement agreement is signed (of course, if this meets all the requirements!), while in Belgium in such cases, the employee runs the risk of being disqualified temporarily or permanently from unemployment benefit.
Although the website of the relevant Belgian authorities does state that this will not lead to problems if the employee meets the conditions that are set by the UWV, in practice, not all local unemployment agencies are informed of this. As such, the cross-border worker runs the risk of being confronted unjustly with a rejected unemployment benefit application.
An appeal can of course be made against this, but prevention is better than cure. Make sure you always consult a specialist dismissal lawyer in time who is knowledgeable about cross border situations and knows how to handle these.
The relevant German authorities are also quick to consider a termination agreement or settlement agreement as a cancellation by the employee if there are no obvious ‘urgent reasons’. In Germany, in such cases, this can quickly lead to a Sperrzeit for the employee.
This means that the termination agreement or settlement agreement must be carefully formulated in accordance with Dutch law to ensure that the relevant German authorities assess that there are ‘urgent reasons’ for the dismissal (that were not created by the cross-border worker).
In principle, it is also possible for the cross-border employee to agree with a termination agreement or settlement agreement without losing his or her unemployment entitlements. But as stated above, it is important to seek advice from a specialist employment lawyer. Such a lawyer can check, sometimes in collaboration with a Belgian or German lawyer, whether the termination agreement or settlement agreement is formulated in such a way that you do not run any risks and that you also know which is the best route to take.
Do you have any questions about this? If so, please feel free to contact one of our employment lawyers. As employment lawyers we are delighted to offer you support and advice!