Civil Servants (Normalisation of Legal Status) Act

On 1 January 2020, the Civil Servants (Normalisation of Legal Status) Act (Wet normalisering rechtspositie ambtenaren, Wnra) will enter into force. The Wnra makes the legal status of civil servants largely equivalent to that of employees in the business community. Instead of being covered by administrative law, the vast majority of civil servants will henceforth be subject to civil law.

Why is the Act being introduced?

There is currently a difference in legal status between civil servants and private-sector employees, even though the nature of the relationship with their employer is the same. In addition, the public-law legal protection afforded to civil servants is not suitable for resolving employment disputes. The introduction of the Wnra will award civil servants and private-sector employees virtually identical legal status.

A matter of principle

The endeavour to give an equal legal status to all working people is primarily a matter of principle. It is unfair to the authors of the bill that civil servants and private-sector employees are treated differently on account of the nature of their work, even though the nature of the relationship with their employer is the same. The following arguments have also been put forward:

  • Deregulation leads to cost savings
  • Normalisation would be good for the image and professional pride of civil servants
  • The public-law legal protection afforded to civil servants is not suitable for resolving employment disputes

Will civil servants cease to exist?

Although the introduction of the Wnra will place a substantial proportion of civil servants under civil law, the Act will not entirely put an end to the concept of civil servants. The Central and Local Government Personnel Act (Ambtenarenwet, AW) will continue to apply to the following groups:

  • political officials;
  • the judiciary;
  • military officials (including civilian personnel);
  • people performing military service;
  • notaries and bailiffs;
  • police officers.

The Wnra will come into force in 2020, giving the government enough time to put in place the necessary amending legislation, as hundreds of statutes need to be amended. Government employers and the unions representing government personnel also need sufficient time to enter into collective employment agreements that will take effect at the same time as the Act.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out more about the Wnra, you can contact Richard Ouwerling, lawyer at Pellicaan Advocaten (by email or by phone on +31 (0)88 627 2287) or Martin Aandewiel, tax adviser at Mazars (by email or by phone on +31 (0)88 277 1396). They will be happy to assist.

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