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The Netherlands: COVID-19 related Case Law

Court case of 16 June 2020: no absolute right for an employee to work from home.

Employees are obliged to work from home as much as possible, as instructed by the government. In this case the employees worked from home until half May 2020 (when the lockdown was terminated).

The employer then asked his employees to come back to the office as much as possible. The employer took all the necessary precautions for a safe workplace.

The employee reacted that she did not want to work in the office. She tried, but she did not like the way her colleagues dealt with the rules from the government related to COVID-19 (not enough distance). The employer stood by his decision for the employee to come to the office. The employee then summoned her employer. The judge stated that the advice of the government to work from home as much as possible is no absolute right for an employee to work from home.

Based on this case, if an employer has a reason for employees to work at the office and takes good precautions regarding COVID-19, the employee is in principle obligated to come to the office.

Court case of 28 August 2020: instant dismissal of an employee who ignored the instruction to close the restaurant during the lockdown period is declared valid

In the Netherlands on the 15th of March at 18:00, all the restaurants and cafés had to close, further to COVID-19 measures from the Dutch government (lockdown). Burger King had to close as well, only the drive thru could remain open. The location managers all communicated this clearly to the employees.

The employee whom this case is about also replied to these messages. Nevertheless he opened the full restaurant on the 16th of March. Complaints were coming in and the manager tried to contact the employee but this took a while. When the manager finally reached the employee he was fired on the spot. The employee decided to fight his instant dismissal in court. The judge, however, declared the instant dismissal valid because the closing of restaurants had to be familiar to the employee. The employee had to follow the clear instructions of his manager to close the restaurant (further to the measures of the government).


For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in the Netherlands, please contact Christiaan Oberman (Partner) of Palthe Oberman at oberman@paltheoberman.nl or visit www.paltheoberman.nl.

For more information please contact Joseph Granato, Communications Manager at L&E Global at joseph.granato@leglobal.org.