Can you fire an employee for being pregnant?

You may never dismiss an employee for being pregnant. A pregnant employee also has protection against several other reasons for dismissal. But if a pregnant employee steals or commits fraud, for example, you may terminate employment immediately.

Dismissal protection

Pregnant employees are protected against almost all the usual reasons for dismissal. These include poor performance, a disrupted working relationship, or long-term illness. Protection from dismissal (in Dutch) lasts from the start of pregnancy until 6 weeks after maternity leave.

When your business or part of it closes (pdf, in Dutch), you are allowed to dismiss an employee who is pregnant. However, this can only be done at the time the employee is at work during pregnancy. The dismissal protection applies from the start of maternity leave until 6 weeks after maternity leave.

Instant dismissal or by mutual consent

You may always immediately dismiss a pregnant employee if they do something that has a major negative impact on your business. For example, refusing work, stealing, cheating, or mistreating a colleague.

You can also terminate the employment of an employee who is pregnant if they agree. This is called dismissal by mutual consent.

Trial period or temporary contract

You may dismiss a new employee who is pregnant during the trial period. This is because the protection against dismissal only starts after that. But beware: even then, you may never terminate a contract because someone is pregnant. If you do, you are guilty of pregnancy discrimination (in Dutch).

If a temporary contract expires, there is no question of dismissal. You do not have to extend that contract because a staff member is pregnant.