The Act on the Normalisation of the Legal Status of Civil Servants (Wnra) will take effect in the Netherlands on 1 January 2020. One of the changes introduced by the Act is that the unilateral appointment civil servants currently enjoy will be converted into a bilateral employment contract. This means municipal and provincial authorities; the state and all other public bodies will have a lot of work to do. But it is also the ideal opportunity to boost their digital transformation.
What does the Wnra involve?
The implementation of the Wnra will mean private employment law will become applicable to civil servants. Their unilateral appointments will be converted into bilateral employment contracts. As a result, civil servants will enjoy the same protections as employees in the private sector.
The main consequences for civil servants are as follows:
Unilateral appointments will no longer be applicable. They will be replaced by bilateral employment contracts.
Once the Act has been implemented, district courts will settle employment disputes involving civil servants. Civil servants will no longer be able to raise objections with their own organisations and appeal through the administrative courts.
Dismissal procedures will also be brought in line with the private sector: public authorities will only be able to dismiss workers after the intervention of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) and the district court.
CBAs will become directly applicable and will no longer need to be converted into a legal status arrangement first.
Material employment benefits such as salaries, year-end bonuses and annual leave hours will remain unaffected by the new Act. In addition, civil servants will retain their special status. The new Civil Servants Act still contains provisions on the duty of confidentiality, the prohibition on accepting gifts and the duty to report any side activities.
The changes affect all civil servants, including employees of De Nederlansche Bank, the Sociale Verzekeringsbank and the UWV.
Employees of the police, the armed forces, judges and staff working for legal and political officials such as Members of Parliament, mayors and councillors will remain excluded from the Wnra, meaning they will retain their existing status.
Preparing for the Wnra
For 380 municipal authorities, all provincial authorities, the water boards, intercommunal bodies and independent administrative authorities, the Wnra is likely to cause a lot of work, especially for HR departments and (employment) law teams. They will need to convert the contracts of all employees in the organisation. If you’re working in one of these departments, you may need to amend your mandates and powers of attorney, depending on your organisation’s current arrangements for the authority to make decisions on employee matters. On the upside, this could be the perfect moment to efficiently and securely organise these authorities digitally.
Change from mandate to power of attorney
One of the changes relates to definitions. Currently, the legal term ‘mandate’ is often used. A mandate is an authority to make a decision on behalf of an administrative authority, such as a decision to appoint a civil servant or a decision to promote someone to a higher grade. The term ‘mandate’ is largely limited to administrative law.
In the private sector, the legal term ‘power of attorney’ is more common. A power of attorney is the authority to perform private law transactions on behalf of a legal person or a natural person. These legal persons could be the state, a municipal authority, a provincial authority or a water board. Once the Wnra has taken effect, all transactions relating to employment contracts will be subject to private law,
so it’s a good idea to check your organisation’s current arrangements. Are you using mandates only, or do you also use powers or attorney?
Prepared for the future
While you’re drawing up an overview of all powers of attorney and designing new procedures for employment contracts, you’ve got a great opportunity to future-proof your entire onboarding process by making it digital.
There are several steps you can take to achieve this, and to keep everything nice and clear, we’ve listed each one separately below. You can implement these steps one at a time or all at once as part of a streamlined process:
European legal validity
In the future, more and more contracts and documents will be stored digitally. Ever-improving technical abilities to identify people and their authority levels and seal documents are making this a reality. The European eIDAS regulation monitors the legal validity of electronic identification, signatures and documents within the EU.
The Wnra will take effect on 1 January 2020, so the time to properly redesign all employment matters and your onboarding process is now! You’ll only stand to benefit in future.
If you’d like to know more about digital signatures and documents, download our free white paper “Your complete guide to digital signatures”, which tells you everything you need to know about this subject.