Technology company Uber has had employees in Amsterdam sign for redundancy under high pressure in exchange for financial compensation. In doing so, the company circumvented the Dutch dismissal rules, according to research by NRC. The newspaper looked at the round of layoffs at its international headquarters earlier this year, which resulted in some 200 jobs being lost.
For the employees who had to leave, the company requested a collective redundancy round from the UWV, which checks whether the dismissals are legitimate. But the American company did not wait for the UWV. Even before the procedure was completed, most staff members had already signed a severance package.
This scheme was forced under great pressure, according to conversations between NRC and nine former employees. Those affected could no longer log into certain systems the day they heard that they could leave. They also received daily reminders to sign up for the scheme, and they were told that their function simply ceased to exist.
Objections from UWV
Most employees signed, about ten employees did not. And the UWV has still not given a definite answer after five months whether the round of dismissal is legal or not. The works council of Uber, trade union FNV and the UWV state that the company had great difficulty in substantiating the dismissal round. The works council was also not informed in time.
“At Uber, everything had to be done very quickly”, FNV told NRC. “On day 1 it was announced in America, on day 7 everything had to be arranged in the Netherlands. Settlement agreements were signed under time pressure and without proper information. Uber simply pushed this through.”
Dutch rules followed
Uber says in a response in NRC that the Dutch dismissal rules “have been fully applied”. “Saying goodbye to colleagues is never straightforward or easy, especially in the current circumstances.” According to the company, the works council has received “the correct information”. “At the time, they assessed this information as sufficient, which led to a positive advice from the works council.”
The company wants to move to a new-build location on the Zuidas in Amsterdam in 2022, where Uber will rent 30,000 square meters. Those plans will continue as usual, according to Uber in NRC.