Goodbye, I'm off!

Is that the end of the employment contract?

The kitchen help has suddenly had enough and says “goodbye, I’m off”. He says farewell to colleagues, hands in his apron and keys, and leaves. “That’s the end of the employment contract”, thinks the employer, but after a week the employee reports back and claims that he had acted on impulse. Did the employment contract in fact end or was the employee still employed?

An employee with an open-ended employment contract who wants to terminate it must give notice with effect from the end of the month whilst observing the notice period. Under the law and the Collective labor Agreement for the hospitality industry there is a one-month notice period, unless a longer period is agreed. This means that the employee must normally give one month’s notice when terminating an employment contract.

Having said that, in some instances employees do just leave. Then it seems as though the employee wants to terminate the employment contract, but the employer cannot simply trust that the employee does really intend that. The employer must first investigate whether the employee really wants to part ways with it. What is important here is that the employee must have a sufficient understanding of the adverse financial impact the termination will have on him: he will, in that case, have no right to a transition payment or benefits.

This means that the employer has a duty to investigate whether the employee actually wants to terminate the contract and is required to properly inform the employee of the consequences of termination. There must be a clear and unambiguous statement about terminating the employment contract. If the employer has not investigated this sufficiently or the employee’s statement does not clearly state that the employment contract is being terminated, the employment contract has not been validly terminated and the employee is still entitled to a wage. 

The employer must investigate this, for example by asking about the reason for the sudden resignation. The employer may also confirm the resignation, asking the employee if he intended it that way. This is different if the employee confirms the resignation after a certain period of time, for instance one week, or sends a farewell email to colleagues. In a nutshell, if the employee stands by the resignation, the employment contract does end.

However, the date on which the employment contract ended must still be determined: does the employee observe the notice period and come to work during that period, or does he take paid or unpaid leave during that period? If the employee terminates the employment contract with immediate effect, without respecting the notice period, this is known as an ‘irregular resignation’ which results in the employee owing the employer his wage over the notice period. It is important for employers, when faced with a sudden resignation, to remind employees of this.

Lees deze blog post hier in het Nederlands.


About the author

Wouter Engelsman

+31 (0)6 810 51 925

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