Important to know about a dismissal for urgent cause

Strada Legale
In the event of a dismissal for urgent cause, you terminate the employment contract with immediate effect and without notice period or severance pay. Dismissal for urgent cause can be invoked by both parties, including the employee. This type of dismissal is also referred to as immediate dismissal.

In order to protect both employee and employer, dismissal for urgent cause is subject to a number of conditions.

Logically, in the first place this dismissal requires an urgent cause. The law defines an urgent cause as a serious shortcoming that immediately and definitively makes the professional cooperation between employer and employee impossible. Examples include: theft and fraud (at work), unjustified refusal to work, slander, drunkenness at work, violence and aggression at work, violation of trade secrets … Persistent shortcomings can also lead to dismissal for urgent cause.

Whether there is a sufficiently serious shortcoming that actually makes the further professional cooperation impossible depends largely on the professional context. One-time drunkenness, for example, is unlikely to be qualified as serious enough to dismiss an administrative employee. When a truck driver gets drunk behind the wheel, however, that is a different story and he will probably be sent off.

Procedure and deadlines

In order to avoid annulment of the dismissal, the party invoking the dismissal for urgent cause must follow a strict procedure with strict deadlines.

A double three-day period must be respected:

  • The person who invokes the dismissal for urgent cause must give the dismissal within three working days after the fact that justifies the urgent cause has become known to her/ him.
  • Within three working days after the dismissal has been given, the party against whom the dismissal is invoked for urgent cause must be notified of the reason for her/ his dismissal, either by registered letter or by bailiff’s writ.

These options are preferred to avoid difficulties of proof. However, the law provides that notification can also be made by handing over a document to the opposing party. In that case, the signature of the other party on the duplicate of this document will only serve as receipt of the notification and in no way as an acknowledgment of the urgent cause.

What about a discussion about dismissal for urgent cause?

Often the relationship between both parties has become so tense that a dispute of the urgent cause can no longer be settled amicably. If you do not agree with the dismissal for urgent reason and want to dispute the dismissal, you can apply to the labour court. The labour judge will decide sovereignly, on the basis of the factual elements, whether the urgent cause is well-founded. The burden of proof for this lies with the person who invokes the dismissal for urgent cause. She or he must demonstrate that there is an urgent cause and that the aforementioned deadlines and formal requirements have been met.

Do you have questions about a dismissal for urgent cause, do you want to know where you stand or do you want to dispute a dismissal for urgent reason? Do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys about this.

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