Contracts in the Netherlands aren’t the most straightforward, but its employment laws make it one of the best countries to workin.
Our Contract Director Gary Thompson’s drawn on his vast knowledge of the Dutch employment landscape and come up with this handy guide to help you make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. Stick with us, and we’ll make light work of getting to grips with things.
First things first: is your contract permanent or temporary? While permanent contracts don’t have a specified end date, temporary contracts do.
A crucial aspect to this distinction is that temporary contracts will automatically turn into permanent contracts if an employee has received more than three successive temporary contracts, or if they’ve had several temporary contracts with the same employer for more than three years.
Things can be a bit different if you’re working through an agency (like us). In this case, although you’ll work for a company, the agency will be your legal employer, and if you’ve been working on short-term projects on temporary contracts of just a few weeks, having more than three contracts may not entitle you to a permanent one.
Although a dismissal procedure isn’t needed to terminate a temporary contract once it comes to an end, permanent contracts can only be terminated if the employee resigns or if the employer finds a legally valid reason to end the contract, so it’s important to be clear on which kind of contract you’re signing.
If your contract’s longer than six months, you’ll usually have a trial period of one month, but contracts lasting longer than two years can involve a two-month probation period.
Although probation periods can feel uncomfortable while you wait to find out if you’ll be staying in your role, it’s important to remember that this is chance for you to get a feel for your new company too, to ensure that your new role’s right for both of you.
A CAO is a Collective Labour Agreement signed between employers and trade unions, covering working conditions, wages and other benefits. When a CAO applies, it applies to all of a company’s employees, and can often be found on the websites of companies that have one.
Everything in your contract should conform to what’s laid out in your CLA, and if you do spot a contradiction between your contract and your CAO, your CAO prevails, so it’s essential to know whether your company has one and what it says.
Most full-time jobs in the Netherlands are between 36-40 hours per week. If you work between 12 and 36 hours a week, you’re considered to be working part time.
According to the Dutch Working Hours Act, employees can work up to 12 hours in a day and 60 hours in a week. This is the maximum, however, and is only intended to cover brief periods of time. Instead, employees must work a maximum average of 48 hours per week over a 16-week period, or 55 hours over a four-week period.
Exceptions are possible though if there are industry-level agreements in place or if they’re mentioned in your CAO, so it’s massively important to see what your CAO has to say on this.
When discussing your salary, your employer is more likely to refer to your gross salary than the amount you’ll actually be taking home after tax and other costs, such as social security payments and pension contributions, have been deducted.
It’s well worth using a salary calculator so that you can be as clear as possible on the difference between the two figures and avoid any nasty surprises later.
If you were hired abroad to work in the Netherlands and you’re earning at least €39,467, you may qualify for the 30% tax ruling. This is a tax-free allowance equivalent of up to 30% of your gross salary and is intended as a compensation for the extra costs international employees can incur when moving to a new country to work. Pretty awesome, right?
The allowance, which was introduced to make it easier for the Netherlands to attract skilled workers, currently lasts for 5 years after you submit your application (although it becomes effective retroactively if you apply within four months of starting your employment) after which you’ll pay the normal amount of tax on your salary. So, it’s a really good time to foray into contracting in the Netherlands from abroad. If you’re thinking of making the jump – get in touch.
Some employers prefer to spread the payment of holiday allowance over 12 months instead though, so we’d recommend making sure you know beforehand exactly how you’ll be getting your holiday allowance.
Employers are obligated to pay the holiday allowance to their employees, although if travel’s not your bag, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s no obligation on employees to spend the money on going on holiday. And in case you were wondering when you’ll have time to take that holiday, by law you’re also entitled to a minimum of 20 paid vacation days a year.
In addition to your vacation days, as part of your contract you may also be entitled to additional days off called ADV days or ATV days. These were originally introduced in the 20th century to encourage companies to hire more staff, but many companies still offer them as a benefit. You can also have ADV hours.
However, although a limited number of your holiday days can be banked and taken into the following year this isn’t the case with ADV days and hours, so if you have them, make sure to use them or you’ll end up losing them.
Most Dutch companies will offer a degree of tax-free reimbursement for business travel in their employment contracts. The precise amount of reimbursement is usually calculated per kilometre. For those travelling by car, motorcycle, bicycle or even on foot, the allowance may not exceed a maximum of €0.19 per kilometre.
You can also receive a travel allowance up to €0.19 per kilometre if you’re travelling on public transport, although your employer may ask you to evidence your business travels, so make sure you save your tickets.
No, the Dutch haven’t created their own calendar. The 13th month’s salary is essentially an end-of-year bonus which is set as a month’s gross wage and paid at the end of the year (hence the name).
Employers who do offer one of their employees a 13th month’s salary are obliged to offer it to all their employees in the Netherlands. Although some sectors do have this bonus written into their CAO, not all employers offer it.
If you decide to leave your job, the notice period is usually one month, although notice periods can sometimes be extended (check that contract).
The amount of notice your employer needs to give you depends on how long you’ve been working for them. Employees of less than 5 years should receive 1 month’s notice, with a month of notice added for every additional 5 years the employee has worked at the company.
For temporary contracts of six months or longer the employer is obligated to inform the employee at one month before the end of their contract whether it will be extended or not. Employers who fail to do this are liable to a fine payable to the employee and equivalent to a maximum of one month’s salary.
Although non-competition clauses are no longer allowed in temporary contracts, there are exceptions to the rule. If a non-competition clause is included in a temporary contract, it needs to be accompanied by a detailed explanation and anchored to a specific function.
As you might expect, clauses like this are very much subject to interpretation, so if your contract does include a non-competition clause, it could be worth having it checked out by a legal expert.
When you leave your role, especially if this happens unexpectedly, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits. To qualify, you must be a legal resident of the Netherlands and have worked for at least 26 of the 36 weeks before you became unemployed. You’ll also need to be able to show that becoming unemployed wasn’t your fault.
The length of time you’ll receive unemployment benefits for depends on your employment history, with each year of work usually entitling you to one month of unemployment benefits, up to a maximum of 24 months.
The General Data Protection Regulation ensures that the organisation that employs you deals with any data that they have on you in a careful and safe manner and gives employees more control over how data about them is being used.
If you’re worried about the way your data is being used by your old company following your employment, you can ask them to explain what they intend to do with your data, or even view the data yourself.
The current state pension age in the Netherlands is 66 years and 4 months, although it will rise to 67 in 2024. Currently the guaranteed pension is €1,292.50 gross per month for those living alone and €883.67 for couples. There is a 2% deduction for every year spent abroad from the age of 15 till the age of retirement.
If your previous employers paid into a pension plan during your employment, you’ll be entitled to income from this plan too. Although in some industries a pension plan is mandatory, this isn’t universally the case, so it’s worth double-checking your contract to see if a pension plan is included.
As you can see there’s a lot that people starting a new role in the Netherlands need to know about their contracts and what they can expect from their employers. Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
As a recruitment company with years of experience of recruiting in the Netherlands, we’re well-placed to help you find a new role and negotiate the best possible contract with your new employers.
To get started on your next career move, get in touch.