Uber has been refused permission to dismiss 11 people at its EMEA headquarters in Amsterdam by the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), the ride hailing company has confirmed. The affected individuals did not take up an earlier severance offer as part of wider Uber layoffs earlier this year. Uber announced major global layoffs of around 15% of its workforce in May — which included around 200 staff based in Amsterdam — blaming the cuts on changes to demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Late last week, Dutch newspaper NRC reported that Uber had been refused permission to fire the staff as the UWV had found there were no grounds for dismissal. Per its report, affected Uber employees had faced pressure to accept Uber’s severance offer — saying they were disconnected from its internal systems the day after being informed of termination via Zoom video call and were then sent daily reminders to accept dismissal with Uber telling them ‘their position was ceasing to exist’. Dutch law requires employers to obtain approval from the UWV for planned redundancies. But the majority of the affected staff in this instance accepted its severance offer before the agency had made a decision. Local press reports suggest many of those affected were expats — who may have been unaware of their labor rights under Dutch law. We reached out to Uber with questions — and a company spokesperson sent us this statement:
Earlier this year we made the difficult decision to reduce our global headcount due to the dramatic impact of the pandemic, and the unpredictable nature of any eventual recovery. The headcount reductions in our EMEA Headquarters in Amsterdam are part of those efforts.
Uber also told us it does not agree with the UWV’s decision to refuse permission for it to dismiss the 11 employees who had not accepted severance, adding that it will review the decision before determining how to proceed. It said the severance packages offered to the ~200 affected employees included at least 2.5 months of salary, health benefits to the end of the year, outplacement/recruitment support and additional support for Uber-sponsored visa holders. *By Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch*

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