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    Permanent contract due to altered end date

    Altering the end date of a temporary employment contract while that contract is in effect might be regarded legally the same as entering into a new contract. As a result, an employee may (unintentionally) be given a permanent contract. This situation emerged in a recent case handled by the Court of The Hague.

    In a row

    The case in question pertained to a university lecturer who was given a fixed-term contract. The contract in question was extended twice. In July 2018, while the second extension of the contract was in effect, the university altered the end date of the contact to August 14, 2020, meaning the lecturer would remain employed for a longer period of time. According to the ‘Wet normalisering rechtspositie ambtenaren’ or ‘WNRA’ (Normalization Legal Position of Civil Servants Act), this alteration meant the lecturer had been given a new contract. When August 14, 2020 was approaching, the lecturer was told he would not be given a new (permanent) contract. However, the lecturer stated that the alteration of the end date of his contract meant that he had already been given a permanent contract. Under Dutch law, an employee may only be given a maximum of three fixed-term contracts in a row. After this, (s)he must be given a permanent contract. Since the  fixed-term contract had already been extended twice, this meant the lecturer had already had the maximum of three fixed-term contracts in a row.

    European Court

    The matter was taken to the Court of The Hague, which ruled in line with a previous verdict by the Court of Justice of the European Union in February 2021: an alteration in the end date of a temporary (i.e. fixed-term) contract can be equated to entering into a new contract. The court thus ruled that by altering the end date and thereby extending the contract a third time (i.e. the fourth contract of the respective lecturer), the university had entered into a permanent contract with the lecturer, which had gone into effect on January 1, 2020 – the date on which the WNRA was implemented.

    Court of The Hague, June 30, 2021; ECLI (abridged): 7032

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