Dutch employment law - Part 2

Dutch employment law - Part 2

This is the second part of the "Dutch employment law: Which rules apply to you?" The first part can be found here.

Protection labour market
When applying for a work permit or a residence permit, beware of the stringent legal protection of the Dutch labour market, making it difficult for non-EU / EEA / Swiss nationals to receive such a permit.

As freedom of movement applies to EU / EEA / Swiss nationals (with the exception of EU nationals from Romania and Bulgaria), employers, when seeking to fill a job opening, are required to search not only the Dutch labour market, but the entire EU / EEA labour market, before endeavouring to employ someone from outside this market.

Being a native speaker of a particular language will no longer automatically qualify you, if the Dutch authorities are of the opinion that your prospective employer should be able to find a Dutch / EU / EEA / Swiss employee who can also speak your language.

Please also note that when faced with the choice, the employer, who will be the one applying for your work permit, might well choose an employee who does not need a work permit over you (if you do need one) - as the application process is an expensive and time-consuming one. This is, without a doubt, unfair - yet something you should realistically take into account.

With any luck, the new regulations, aimed at simplifying and shortening this procedure, will succeed in levelling this aspect of the playing field.

In general, salaries in the Netherlands are commensurate with the general cost of living and pay parity is only reached at very senior management levels. However, you will find that, in fact, the net wages are comparable as most expenses and some allowances are tax-exempt.

Furthermore, a statutory holiday allowance (minimum of 8% of a gross annual salary), usually paid in the month of May, is awarded to each individual pro-rated to the number of months worked.

Citizen service number
Everyone who is employed legally, or wants to register with an employment agency, has to have a "social-fiscal" number - the Citizen Service Number (BSN, burgerservicenummer) - for tax purposes.

Without this number, your employer cannot properly pay out your salary for tax purposes or credit your contributions for your benefits. Also expat family members need to obtain a Citizen Service Number.

Terminating an employment contract
The Netherlands has a unique dual system of dismissal. If an employer wishes to terminate an employment contract for an indefinite period of time, he has two options.

His first option is to obtain prior approval from the UWV WERKbedrijf, before serving the notice of termination. The purpose of this procedure is to avoid unreasonable or socially unjustifiable dismissals.

Alternatively, an employer may at any time request the sub-district sector of the District Court to dissolve the employment contract. The request for the dissolution must be on the basis of serious cause, for instance poor performance or redundancy.

Without the prior approval of the UWV WERKbedrijf or the dissolution of the District Court, the employment relationship - as a general rule - cannot be terminated unilaterally. It should be noted, however, that the employment can be terminated by mutual consent during the probation period, for urgent reasons (e.g. theft), or when the agreed fixed period of time has lapsed.

Note: When dismissing an employee, it is not important whether Dutch law or the law of another country applies. Even if the employment contract is governed by the national law of another country, the employee can still invoke the protection of the Dutch law, provided Dutch mandatory rules of employment law and / or rules of Dutch public order apply.

This is the second part of the "Dutch employment law: Which rules apply to you?" article written by Stephanie Dijkstra, editor-in-chief of The XPat Journal. Have a look at the current issue or subscribe here.

Previous in the series
 Dutch employment law - Part 1
(Probation period, Chain contracts, Minimum / Maximum duration contract, Foreign temps, Multilingual jobs)

Next in the series
 Dutch Employment Law - Part 3
(Procedure before the UWV Werkbedrijf, Procedure before the Court, Notice Period, Severance payment, Benefits, 30%-Ruling)

Stephanie Dijkstra


Stephanie Dijkstra

Stephanie Dijkstra is a Third Culture Kid in every possible way. Raised in four countries by Dutch/American parents, both of whom also grew up in several countries, the world is...

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