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I recently resigned with my current company, following both the corresponding laws and the company handbook. Legally they still have to keep/pay me for a month, as that is what my contract (Permanent/'onbepaalde tijd') and the law here (Netherlands) say. Even if they would fire me (which would be very difficult here), law states they need to keep me on for a whole month.

However I work interim based and me leaving means they can't put me on a project for the last month. Because of this they told me 'We expect you to take unpaid leave as this is highly inconvenient for us and you can't be profitable to us if you sit at home for a month.'

Now, legally, this is not my problem. In the real world however, it is. Because I now have to have a meeting with my boss who now thinks I'm just an annoying inconvenience who will just cost him money over the next month and will then have to probably spend a month staring at my screen at their office.

Any tips/ideas on how to either resolve this or smooth out this meeting? I asked my new job if I can start there earlier but due to the holidays this wasn't possible. I have absolutely no interest in going without pay for a month either.

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    First you say you're a permanent employee, then you say you're interim. Perhaps you could clarify this? Do you mean that you're a permanent employee to them, but they send you out to other third-party companies on an as-needed basis? If so I don't see how that's your problem. If they had no projects on the go would they expect you to take unpaid time off then? – Bloke Down The Pub Dec 28 '18 at 21:55
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Dec 30 '18 at 4:28
  • What would they have made you do if you had not resigned? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 30 '18 at 12:05
  • @Thorbjorn, I work interim which means they place me on projects for other companies. I haven’t worked a day at my employer’s office since they’re just a middleman. – Summer Dec 30 '18 at 14:31
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    I'm guessing that "work interim" means you're a contract software developer. ??? – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 31 '18 at 17:46
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I'd go in with something valuable you can do over that month so it's not you playing minesweeper at your desk. If you've been there long enough you should know some things that need to get done but never do, which should take a few weeks to complete. Basically you want to go with the attitude of:

Hey look, legally you need to keep me around, so here's this thing I can do of value during that time. I'll provide good documentation along the way so that you guys can maintain / understand what I did.

Speaking for myself as a manager, I rarely get everything I want. But if I can make the situation palatable, I'm good with that. Less legal exposure for the firm, you're having the right attitude and not talking smack on us internally for the next month, and something good is getting done. I'd be okay with that, and hopefully your boss will be as well.

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    There is almost always documentation to write / update, if nothing else. – Joe Stevens Dec 29 '18 at 8:12
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    @JoeStevens that's exactly what I was thinking too. If the documentation is somehow all written, you can work on copy-editing it, translating it into Dutch and/or English as applicable, or professionally typesetting it. – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '18 at 20:06
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    And if the OP, like many software guys, only really wants to write code, don't underestimate the amount of automated tests one can add in a month. – ChatterOne Dec 31 '18 at 11:52
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Frankly, what they say is their problem and not yours. And it's their problem in the real world. Your boss is just being stupid.

In the EU, if notice is given up to day X then the company has to pay you up to day X, and that's that. No discussions at all. You can tell them that what they want you to do is absolute nonsense, that you are not taking unpaid holidays, and that if they think about not paying you then you will have to get a lawyer, and they will pay both your salary and your lawyer.

If they don't want you to sit in the office for a month staring at your screen, they have three choices: Payment in lieu of notice (that is, you are laid off immediately, but they pay you your salary for you giving up your notice), gardening leave (they tell you to stay at home, still paying your salary), or they find something useful for you to do.

I must say that their demand is so ridiculous and outrageous, I wouldn't have the slightest inclination to make this any easier for them. And you don't need to care about what your boss thinks of you - I think it is quite clear what I think and what you should think of him.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Dec 31 '18 at 23:27
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If they are starting from such an extreme position then its going to be difficult to get this to a "smooth" resolution.

It's not unreasonable for you to try and mitigate the issue by starting at the new role earlier but you''ve explored that and it's non starter. Presumably you are already going to use any remaining annual leave but I'm guessing that's not significant or you'd have mentioned it.

I think you need to make it absolutely clear that going without pay is not on the table..paying you for your entitled period isn't optional and the fact that it's not profitable for them is to put it bluntly not your problem, its a cost of doing business and if they aren't prepared to do that they shouldn't be in business.

That said you can try and smooth things a bit by suggesting ways you can providing as much value as you can during that time, there will almost certainly be something you can do that has value and its up to then whether they take advantage of that or decide to be difficult.

So be as reasonable and willing as you can on how you send that month but stay firm on getting paid. The rest is up to them.

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The point of having a notice period is that it gives your employer time to settle its affairs with you. That is, they have some time to find people (usually coworkers) who can take over project. In an ideal situation, you'd spend most of your time writing documentation, giving trainings, etc.

If they don't have anything for you to do, that is not your problem. You are available, and you are getting paid for that. If they don't want to benefit from that, it's their loss, not yours.

If they threaten to withhold your salary, contact your union (if you are a member) -- most, if not all, give free legal support when it comes to labour conflicts. Otherwise, if you are insured for that ("rechtbijstandsverzekering"), contact your insurance company. Else, find a lawyer.

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    I haven't heard of that type of employment insurance before, is it kind of like paying for an employment lawyer at a cheap group rate, with the company's expectation that 1 in 100 (or some low number) people will actually need to use it? Is it common in the Netherlands? Google translated one page to "Legal expenses insurance", I wonder why it's not available/popular/more advertised in N.America – Xen2050 Dec 28 '18 at 21:22
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    @Xen2050 Yeah it's basically insurance to cover your legal costs, like travel insurance would be I guess. It's not handled by the company, it's handled by you and the party you get your 'rechtsbijstandsverzekering' with. – Summer Dec 28 '18 at 22:38
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When the company gave your contract, they had the possibility to reduce the notice period that you had to give ('opzegtermijn van de werknemer') to 0 days. (Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 7, artikel 672, 4 and 7, my summary, but I am not a lawyer: if nothing is written in the contract, it is one month, but the contract is allowed to change this.) They chose not to change it, so it is one month. Legally, you are covered. But that does not solve your problem, you still have the meeting.

From your description, it sounds you work 'gedetacheerd'. As in: all that your real employer does is find a project for you at another company. If there is no project for you, there is little meaningful work for you to do. There is perhaps not even a desk for you in your company's office. And your previous project has ended. There is nothing left for you to do, and even worse: doing it may give legal problems because the NDA that you signed for that project probably does not allow this. You probably have no documentation to finish, no new people in the project to help get started. So don't consider that.

But you might still be able to do something. They might find a small project of one week for you. You can help with organizing the new year's drink. You can help looking at cv's of applicants. You can join a brainstorm session on which new clients your company could target. Realistically, this will not keep you busy for more than 3 days in this month, but be open for it. Don't plan any holiday or whatever during this month (unless you have enough free days remaining of course).

How to make this meeting smooth: You can't. But your boss can, by being reasonable. Don't accept the month unpaid leave. Be clear about that, and don't give reasons if they don't ask. If they ask why, say that you don't do it because you have a contract for one more month. Repeat as many times as necessary. Your boss most likely has already accepted that he has to pay for this month, but tries it anyway. ('Niet geschoten is altijd mis.')

Stay willing to work in this meeting: suggest to check cv's, do brainstorms or help with activities. Show you are cooperative, and your boss will become so too.

If there is nothing for you to do, he will not force you to come to office, because it will cost him a desk and chair. It's cheaper for him if you sit at your couch at home. And yes, you will have a negative value to your boss this month. He will not like that. But that is not your problem, and probably, your company earned enough money off you in the previous months. Keep that in mind, if you worry about costing money.

And if your are really 'gedetacheerd': don't worry about references. First of all, in the Netherlands they are not so important as in the United States, and secondly, a new employer will not ask your 'detacheringsbureau' for a reference, but the company where you really did your work.

If your boss chooses to stand firm, and makes it a tough meeting: that's his choice. Show him that you will not change your mind, and he might stop.

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    Nothing in that source indicates the employer can put a notice period of 0 days in the contract. Only the employee can have a 0 day notice period if both parties agreed on that in the contract. – Kevin Dec 29 '18 at 23:32
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    @Kevin: Now I might get confused by the terminology in two languages... You are of course correct, I did not mean to imply that the employer can set his own notice period to 0 days. The employer can take the initiative to put a notice period of 0 days for the employee in the contract, and the employee can agree to that. I'll try to clarify this in the answer, correct me if it is still unclear. – user46636 Dec 30 '18 at 8:09
  • As I was coming to the comments section, I was about to comment that this is highly unusual for a company in the EU to unilateraly be able to change the rules, as set up by the law (but I am French and there are differences in labor law in EU, though this one was extreme). It may be good indeed to state that this can only be an agreed decision on both sides. On the one hand, this si what a contract is for. On the other hand, in France that would still be illegal as a contract cannot trump labor laws (generally speaking). On the third hand, this may be a provision in Dutch labor law. – WoJ Dec 30 '18 at 10:49
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The idea of notice is that the current employer would want you to work for the next month or whatever, to finalize current projects. And you, if you are moving to a better employer, is supposed to be interested to leave earlier, to be available.

If, apparently, the current employer is not interested in keeping you for the month, usually it is possible to negotiate sooner end of the employment.

Probably, if it is your case, you could contact your next employer and ask if you can start it earlier. Then it would be resolved in everyone's advantage.

If the new employer cannot modify start of employment, or there is not new employer, then I'd stick with @gnasher729's answer. After all, if there were not the law requirement of early notice you would not make it that early, and would not have to be idle the time.

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    Also, if the old employer has absolutely no work for me, then I will happily take one month salary to do absolutely nothing, because that is exactly what I'm entitled to. That's what a notice period is for. – gnasher729 Dec 29 '18 at 14:52
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It is pretty nice to have a month of vacation, isn't it? I guess the reason you want to find a smooth solution is that you want good references from your current manager in the future next time you switch job. Or that you might meet your current manager somewhere professionally in the future.

Your first offer should of course be "find some meaningful chores for me internally" the last month. Since this seems difficult, if I were you, I would suggest they relieve you from work the last month so you can have vacation and pay you half of the salary (or something like that) you are entitled to. Maybe you can spend the time on doing something useful at home, renovate or so, that makes it worthwhile.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Dec 31 '18 at 23:28
  • @JaneS Where are the previous comments - comments posted before the comments you moved to the chat? Can you please restore them, either here or in the chat? – hensti Jan 1 at 0:32
  • All comments that weren't previously deleted prior to the move to chat are in the chat group. – Jane S Jan 1 at 1:08
  • @JaneS Yes I know, I want you to restore the deleted comments, as chat if you think that is appropriate. – hensti Jan 1 at 2:02
  • Just remove your answer, it's ignorant, blatantly false, based on unverified assumptions and a little condescending. It doesn't add anything meaningful here. – Kevin Jan 2 at 13:32

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