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13 Feb 2024 Firing an employee without an improvement plan: look before you leap


After 27 years of employment, the employer informed an employee that it wanted to terminate her employment contract because she did not perform well. The notice in question was not preceded by a process of improvement, nor was the employee previously addressed about her performance. The employer submitted a request for termination and the employee was suspended. How does the subdistrict court rule?

Judgment of the Subdistrict Court

The subdistrict court terminated the employment contract and awarded the employee fair compensation of €115,000, because the employer had acted in a seriously culpable manner, according to the subdistrict court.

Indeed, the employer informed the employee on 23 February 2023, completely out of the blue and on the basis of allegations that were unsubstantiated according to the subdistrict court, that it had lost confidence in the employee and wished to terminate the employment contract.

The employer then started termination proceedings even though there was no factual basis for the alleged dysfunction.

The subdistrict court believes that this gave the employee no opportunity to improve her performance - if dysfunction was to be determined at all.

The subdistrict court also held that with this approach, the employer had caused an irreparably disturbed employment relationship after more than 27 years of employment and thus acted seriously culpable.

After the employer hears from the subdistrict court, what it intends to decide in response to her request for termination, the employer withdraws the request for termination.

However, the employee filed a counterclaim, requesting (also) termination of the employment contract and asked for a fair compensation.

The employment contract is terminated with the aforementioned fair compensation.

Read the ruling here.


If there is (suspected) dysfunction, it is important that this is properly recorded and also discussed with the employee concerned. It is also important to give the employee a chance to improve his or her performance. Therefore, a request to terminate the employment contract cannot simply be submitted without a file being created and/or without an improvement plan being in place, without far-reaching consequences and (as in this judgment) resulting in the employer having to pay substantial compensation to the employee. Therefore, it is always advisable to engage a specialised employment lawyer in appropriate cases, who can guide such a process. The employment lawyers at SPEE advocaten and mediation, will be happy to assist you.

SPEE advocaten & mediation Maastricht


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