Each month we’ll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, beginning with Adam Kiolle, our board member in the position of Legal Affairs. Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at email@example.com
Who are you? Introduce yourself.
My name is Adam, I am 29 years old and am an Australian attorney at a commercial law firm in Amsterdam, Blenheim Attorneys. I am also a member of the AABC’s board of directors and responsible for the legal affairs portfolio.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia I have been living in the Netherlands since summer 2014.
When and why did you join the AABC?
I have been a member of the AABC for about half a year now. I joined for a number of reasons: firstly, it is a great place to meet interesting, like-minded professionals and businesspeople and to expand your personal and business network.
For me personally, the AABC is also a great place to meet new clients — in my practice, I specialize in advising foreign clients on doing business in the Netherlands and support Dutch companies engaged in international business. Not a meeting goes by where somebody doesn’t come up to me with a legal question or problem that they are having trouble with.
Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.
Blenheim is a full-service commercial law firm that caters to businesses of all sizes: from sole traders and start-ups to SMEs and international corporations.
In addition to the traditional corporate law, real estate, administrative law, labor law, IP and general contract law practices, Blenheim is quite unique in that it also has a specialized English desk staffed by native English speakers. This allows us to advise our foreign clients and draft complex legal documentation without any of the important nuances getting “lost in translation”.
If you need advice on setting up a company, drafting or negotiating a contract, solving a dispute or any other aspects of doing business in the Netherlands, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues at Blenheim.
What are your tips and advice about doing business in the Netherlands?
One of the things about the Dutch legal system that often catches foreign companies, especially American ones off-guard are the strong protections of employees’ rights under Dutch law. Great news if you are an employee, less great if you are an employer. Here are three issues to be careful of if you run or are starting up a company or a branch in the Netherlands or things that you should be aware of if you are an employee working in the Netherlands.
- At-will termination? Not a thing here. If you want to fire an employee, you will have to make sure that you have (very) good reasons. Why? Because you generally cannot fire an employee without special permission from the courts or the Dutch labor authority, the UWV. An employee can only be terminated without notice for serious cause. In the absence of sufficient cause for termination under Dutch law, the only solution will be a decent severance payment. This is something that should be factored into your HR planning.
- Is your business growing? Great! Are you reaching the 50 employees mark? Fantastic – but don’t forget, you now need to have a “works council”. Employers in the Netherlands with 50 or more employees need to set up a works council – a committee of employee representatives who have to be consulted with on certain issues and who even need to give consent for certain strategic, organizational or personnel-related decisions.
- Are you sure that your contractors are contractors? Given how heavily Dutch law leans in favor of employees, relying on contractors instead of employees can be an attractive alternative to taking people on as employees. Be careful though, simply calling someone a “ZZP’er” (contractor) does not necessarily make them a contractor. If the courts look at your situation and see that someone who is a contractor on paper is actually being used as an employee, the courts will simply treat the relationship as an employment relationship – with all of the employer obligations and employee protections that come with it.
Blenheim Attorneys’ labor law practice advises and represents employers and employees on these kinds of matters and any other employment law-related issues. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the issues discussed here or any other labor law matters.
Photo credit: Magpeye Photography www.magpeyephotography.com
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