Civil Servants (Normalisation of Legal Status) Act (WNRA)
The Civil Servants (Normalisation of Legal Status) Act (WNRA) provides that from 1 January 2020 civil servants will have the same legal status as public sector employees. The Act applies to people who work for a public employer, such as civil servants employed by the central government, municipal councils and water authorities, and also to university staff.
Very little will change for staff of the University. The most important point is that your employment conditions will stay the same. All the agreements, decisions and commitments relating to your present appointment will simply be transferred unchanged to your new employment contract.
This means that no changes will be made in:
- your salary
- wether your employment is temporary or permanent
- working hours
- work schedule
- job description
- annual leave entitlement
- holiday allowance and end-of-year bonus
- study agreements
- social security regulations (WW/BWNU and ZANU)
- your participation in the ABP pension fund
Cao and employee benefits retained
We will continue to observe the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU), and the consultations on the CAO NU between VSNU (the employers’ organisation) and the trade unions will also remain in place after 1 January 2020.
What will change
Your present appointment at Leiden University will change into an employment contract from 1 January 2020. You are not required to do anything for this, and no new documents will be sent to your home.
Colleagues who enter employment with the University after 1 January 2020 will receive an employment contract. Details of what must be stated in the written confirmation of the employment relationship (the employment contract) are given in Art. 2.1 of our CAO NU.
Very little difference in practice
An appointment is a unilateral legal act of a public employer. It is a decision (besluit) within the meaning of the General Administrative Law Act (AWB), the ‘pure’ form of which requires only a signature on behalf of the public employer and not of the staff member.
An employment contract is based on the agreements that the employer and employee make together, and both of them sign the written employment contract.
In practice, the differences at the universities between an appointment decision and an employment contract are quite minor. After all, staff members are not appointed against their wishes and appointments are preceded by a job application, a selection interview and often an interview about employment conditions. Moreover, even now, both the employer and the staff member sign the statement of the employment relationship.
Under the WNRA you will not be able to retain an appointment instead of an employment contract, or lodge an objection against the automatic conversion of your appointment into an employment contract.
After 1 January 2020, staff members of the universities will formally no longer be civil servants, although we will continue to participate in the ABP pension fund (General Pension Fund for Public Employees). In this respect, there is a difference between the WNRA for the education sector and the WNRA for central government, municipal councils, provincial governments and water authorities. In those sectors, the staff members will continue to be civil servants, with an employment contract subject to civil law.
Civil servants can currently lodge objections and appeals against their employer’s decisions on the basis of the General Administrative Law Act (AWB). When the WNRA comes into force, these objection and appeal procedures, and their strict time limits, will cease to exist: for decisions that are taken after 1 January 2020, civil law procedures will apply.
There is no truth in the idea that dismissal is easier when a staff member is not a civil servant. An employer must always have reasonable grounds for dismissal, and this applies both before and after the WNRA, i.e. in both administrative civil servants law and private labour law.
In future, no dismissal without permission from UWV or subdistrict court
The procedure that employers have to follow if they want to dismiss a staff member will, however, be different:
- Before the WNRA comes into force, employers must first take a decision on dismissal and employees can then lodge objections and appeals against that decision. This is the retrospective assessment, which takes place after the staff member has already received a dismissal decision.
- After the WNRA comes into force, employers must first apply to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) or the subdistrict court for a so-called preventive dismissal assessment. The employer cannot terminate an employment contract without a dismissal permit from the UWV or permission from the subdistrict court to have the contract terminated.
Employees without a permanent contract
This preventive dismissal assessment does not apply, for example, to employees who have a temporary contract or are retiring: their employment contract will end automatically, exactly as it does now.
Termination of employment by mutual agreement
If the employer and employee agree that they want to terminate the employment, a preventive dismissal assessment by the court or the UWV is not required. In that case, the employer and employee set down the arrangements they have made about the termination of the employment in a settlement agreement.
Minor technical adjustments in the CAO
The introduction of the WNRA will necessitate a few minor technical adjustments in the CAO. Consultation on these is already taking place between VSNU and the trade unions, so that the amended CAO can become effective from 31 December 2019.
The CAO NU is supplemented with a number of the University’s own regulations on employment conditions, which have been agreed in the meetings between the Executive Board and the Local Consultative Committee and/or with the University Council. We will also make some changes in the terminology and sometimes also in technical legal aspects of these University regulations, bringing them into line with the WNRA, in consultation with the employee participation bodies. We will ensure that this has been completed before 1 January 2020.