What you need to know about the Dutch social security agency (UWV)

What you need to know about the Dutch social security agency (UWV)

Imagine one day, your company’s management breaks it to you that it’s not their intention to extend your contract.

How would you react to that? The sooner you realise you need to find another job the better. But what if the time since you heard the bad news is not enough to find another job? What are your choices then?

Well, UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen or  Social Security Agency) is one of them. How much do you know about UWV though? Who is behind this agency and how does it function?

What is UWV?

The merger of a number of institutions (Cadans, Gak, GUO, SFB, USZO and Lisv) in 2002 resulted to the formation of UWV. On January 1, 2009, UWV joined forces with CWI (Centrum voor Werk en Inkomen or Centre for Work and Income). That merge contributed to UWV’s growth and led to it evolving into a key player in its area of expertise.

UWV is an autonomous administrative authority (a ZBO or zelfstanding bestuursorgaan) commissioned to implement employee insurance and provide labour market and data services.

Structure of UWV

UWV comes under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW or Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid). Decision-making regarding UWV’s operations is done by its Executive Board, which consists of three members appointed by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

The Executive Board sets the organisation’s mission, ambitions, values and strategy. It also decides upon any matter related to a citizen-friendly, effective and rightful implementation of social insurance laws.

Furthermore, UWV’s Executive Board is responsible for making policy choices and adopting them. At the early stage of the development of a policy and its translation into a law, UWV and its Executive Board offers its input to the Ministry. Another focus area is explaining the adopted policies to citizens and businesses.

What does UWV do?

UWV’s mission is to help people progress through working. When work is not available, UWV ensures that they have an income.

UWV has four key tasks:


It stimulates and supports its clients to continue working or to find a job.

 Social medical affairs

It evaluates, according to certain criteria, its clients' inability to work due to illnesses and acts for their re-integration.


It ensures benefits when employment is not (directly) possible.

 Data management

It ensures that clients provide the government with data about employment and benefits only once.

Who checks on UWV?

The Minister of Social Affairs and Employment is responsible for checking on the work of UWV, through quarterly and annual reports where policy choices and their implementation plan are presented.

UWV adheres to the principles of the Code for Good Public Governance. According to the SUWI Act (Wet structuur uitvoeringsorganisatie werk en inkomen), UWV’s supervision is independently regulated and is carried out by the Inspectorate Social Affairs and Employment.

Transparency is insured by UWV reporting to its Minister and via him or her to the States General (the parliament of the Dutch government). The UWV’s quarterly and annual reports, as well as a huge range of information regarding the organisation’s activities, are posted on its accountability website (verantwoording site), which anyone can access.

UWV is a member of the HVP (Handvestgroep Publiek Verantwoorden), whose mission is to set the standards for quality in public services.

Co-operation with other organisations

In order to carry out its responsibilities, UWV must co-operate with many other groups and organisations in the Netherlands.


UWV considers municipalities its natural partners. They work together in 35 different labour-market regions focusing on improving the transparency of the labour market, helping people find a job and ensuring lower social costs.

UWV also supports municipalities to carry out new tasks assigned to them as a result of social reforms, which they do by offering them services falling within statutory duties and services concerning payments.


These are UWV’s indispensable partners in helping its clients to find a job. Together with employers, UWV focuses on helping more and more clients who need extra support (in particular those with disabilities) to find a job.

 Non-government organisations

UWV’s goal is to intensify collaboration with job agencies, re-integration companies, employers and employee organisations, industry associations and all sorts of institutions involved in healthcare and education in order to help its clients to find a job or to continue working.

 Government and related agencies

UWV Data Services compiles and manages data on wages, benefits and labour relations of all insured persons in the Netherlands in collaboration with tax and customs administrations, the municipal social services, the pension funds, the Social Insurance Bank and CBS (Statistics Netherlands).

 Research hospitals

UWV, together with joint initiative the Dutch Research Centre for Insurance Medicine (Kenniscentrum Verzekeringsgeneeskunde), works closely with the Academic Medical Centre (AMC), the VU medical centre (VUmc) and the Academic Medical Centre Groningen in order to improve and further develop insurance services concerning medicine.

Benefits provided by UWV

UWV provides the employment benefits that are determined by Dutch law:

 Unemployment benefit (WW-uitkering)

The unemployment benefit is determined by the Unemployment Insurance Act (WW or Werkloosheidswet).

 Disability benefits

These are benefits for partially or fully disabled people and are determined by the Work and Income according to Labour Capacity Act (WIA or Wet werk en inkomen naar arbeidsvermogen).

They are the Full Invalidity Benefit Regulations (IVA-uitkering or Inkomensvoorziening Volledig Arbeidsongeschikten) and the Return to Work (Partially Disabled) Regulations (WGA-uitkering or Werkhervattingsregeling Gedeeltelijk Arbeidsgeschikten).

There is also a benefit for disabled youth (Wajong-uitkering), which is determined by the Work and Employment Support for Disabled Youth (Wajong stands for Wet werk en arbeidsondersteuning jonggehandicapten).

Another is the benefit for those who are disabled by a minimum of 15 per cent and were already receiving a benefit before January 1, 2006 (WAO-uitkering), which is determined by the Invalidity Insurance Act (WAO or Wet arbeidsongeschiktheidsverzekering).

Lastly, there is the benefit for disabled self-employed people (WAZ-uitkering), which is determined by the Invalidity Insurance Act for Self-Employed People (WAZ or Wet arbeidsongeschiktheidsverzekering zelfstandigen).

 Maternity / Paternity benefit

The benefit for pregnancy, adoption and foster care (Wazo-uitkering) is determined by the Work and Care Act (Wazo or Wet arbeid en zorg).

 Sickness benefit

The benefit for those that are sick and are not entitled to a wage from an employer (Ziektewet-uitkering) is determined by the Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet).

Also, check out the process for obtaining the unemployment benefit (WW-uitkering).

Sources: UWV, Inspectie SZW,, Wikipedia, Government of the Netherlands, HPV, Staten Generaal, Recht op Bijstand, KCVG, Your Europe

Efthymios Kotronias


Efthymios Kotronias

Efthymios Kotronias, based in Amsterdam, makes his first steps as a freelance journalist and writer. I Am Expat website is the first one to have hosted his texts in...

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