In the Netherlands there is a longstanding tradition of protecting the employee against losing their job by only allowing three ways of ending employment:
1 by contracting at the start for only a limited amount of time, that is only allowed three times or three years in a row, then it has to become permanent employtment
2 by asking a judge to end any individual employment, the judge wil most likely be very critical and decide that even then terminated, the employee has to be payed an extra fee, depending on age and years of employment
3 by asking a special bureau for a licence to terminate: this is only possible, for instance if the company is in financial dire straits and has to cut employees and/or divisions. After termination, individual employees can still seek justice for loss of their jobs by starting a legal procedure. Also, in this procedure, its a matter of "last in first out" (with a differentiation on agegroups) so the employer can not cull "unwanted" employees willynilly.
Special protection is in place for pregnant women, sick people, people with an active participation in employer advisory boards and special needs-employees.
That said, due to economic circumstances it's getting easier to let people go. Judges are less critical. And there's a politic shift in the air, more towards the American "hired today, fired tomorrow" mentality. That's not a good thing.
As I own a lawfirm, employment and termination cases are my bread and butter at the moment. Still, we always advice our clients to be as humane and forcoming as possible by offering voluntary termination payments, outplacement, education and/or other assistance for their to be ex-employees. It's the right thing to do, but also (and that's our sellingpoint to reluctant clients) it prevents the employees often from seeking justice in long costly procedures. We make less money per case, but clients are happy, results are good, and that brings in more clients. And it makes us able to look at ourselfs in the mirror without wincing because we've started on our own, because we didn't want to be the archetypical moneyhungry pinstriped lawyers.
That said: if I can influence it I will, if I can't I have to let it go... otherwise I'll go crazy. Taking the weight of the world on my shoulders might be noble, but it is paralyzing and prevents me from doing my small contribution.