Important Ruling by the Court of Justice (for legal professionals) 💡

Elke

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The Court of Justice issued a ruling last Tuesday that could also impact Dutch labour law.

What Happened in This Polish Case?

The case involved a Polish employee with a fixed-term employment contract. This contract was terminated early by the employer without stating the reasons for the dismissal. Under Polish law, when terminating an indefinite employment contract, the reasons for dismissal must be provided. According to the EU directive, this requirement also applies to fixed-term contracts. However, employees cannot directly invoke this directive, which led the Polish employee to argue that his employer had violated the non-discrimination principle from the EU Charter. As a result, he was unable to properly prepare his case for court because he did not know why he was dismissed. The Court of Justice subsequently ruled that this aspect of Polish labour law was not only in conflict with the EU directive but also violated a fundamental right from the EU Charter. Employees can directly invoke the EU Charter, which enshrines the fundamental right that member states must ensure effective judicial protection. In this Polish case, it meant that the Polish court ultimately had to set aside national legislation because it conflicted with the EU Charter. However, it remains to be seen how Polish judges will handle this in practice due to the significant pressure on the rule of law.

Relevance to Dutch Law

The case itself is not particularly relevant to us, as Dutch legislation requires that employers always provide reasons when terminating (mid-term) an employment contract or requesting dissolution from the subdistrict court.

Why Is This Ruling Still Important?

If this precedent extends to situations within Dutch labour law, it could mean that employees and employers can indirectly invoke directives if they are not properly implemented and thereby conflict with fundamental rights from the EU Charter. It remains to be seen how this will develop in practice, given that much is regulated at the European level.

Not particularly interesting for the average entrepreneur, but certainly for our colleagues.

Read the full judgment here.

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De Haij & van der Wende

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Dennis Oud

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Erwin den Hartog

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Fleur Huisman

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Petra Lindthout

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Tessa Sipkema

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Gerard van der Wende

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Elke Hofman-Bijvank

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