Working in the Netherlands
I will be relocating to the Netherlands or I am new to the Netherlands and have yet to find work. I don’t speak Dutch and would be happy to receive any advice from you with regards to employment possibilities and opportunities in the Netherlands.
Many international companies, non-commercial organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and affiliates of the United Nations and the European Union use English as the main working language. Also, certain jobs need languages such as French and German. Learning some Dutch would no doubt increase your opportunities, but there are many jobs for which no Dutch is required.
Where can I find information about international jobs in the Netherlands?
Here are the most useful methods of job hunting:
Via uitzendbureaus (employment or job agencies)
Some agencies employ people and send them temporarily to employers, though you can also get other types of contracts depending on the employer. There are both advantages and disadvantages to using this channel. On one hand, an agency can give you inside information about an employer as well as helping you prepare for an interview. On the other hand, an agency is one step further away from the employer. It’s up to the agency to propose and promote you for the job, which is why it’s important to make a good impression on them as well. Treat them the same as you would a potential employer, including dressing professionally.
Choose agencies representing your area of work and especially those dealing with international organisations if you do not speak Dutch. Some Dutch employment agencies may not consider you as a candidate if your CV is in English. To avoid being turned away with a standard response, look for job opportunities having descriptions which are in English. If Dutch is a requirement for the position and you can manage the language, then you should send the cover letter and CV in Dutch. In both cases, have your cover letter and CV checked for spelling and grammar errors as that is one of the first things a recruiter will look at.
Some agencies specialise in jobs for non-Dutch speakers. You can either forward your CV to the job agency or apply for their advertised vacancies. Both can be done via their websites; however, it is a good idea to give them a call to introduce yourself and stand out as a potential candidate. For a comprehensive list of recruitment agencies, contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here. If you are looking for a recruiter or headhunter for your next career step, then refer to the werving- en selectiebureaus (recruitment agencies). You can find all agencies available in the Netherlands on: allewervingenselectiebureaus.nl.
Many agencies require an MBO (vocational education) or HBO (professional higher education) diploma to apply for vacancies. If you are looking for part-time work as a student, job boards such as Monsterboard.nl may be more helpful.
In the Netherlands, establishing a network of contacts is invaluable. This can happen anywhere (e.g. in sports clubs, your children’s school, interest groups and clubs). Be ready for the question: What do you do? Spend time on perfecting your profile and practising your ‘pitch’ but remember to keep it simple and natural.
Attending multilingual job fairs can be helpful. Some of the organisations/employers participating in these fairs may have positions for English-speaking job seekers, and the added networking opportunities may provide valuable information.
LinkedIn is widely-used in the Netherlands so make sure your profile is up to date, including that you live in the Netherlands. Ensure your profile and experience are consistent with your CV and include a professional photo. Recruiters and hiring managers are constantly reviewing profiles and placing job advertisements there. You can also join groups, take part in discussions, and use LinkedIn for your job research. Sign up for job alerts by filling in key words and areas of work interest, and you will be notified of jobs matching your requirements.
Via the internet and job boards
There are internet platforms with available job opportunities especially for internationals. You can upload your CV and sign-up for job alerts on various job boards such as: Togetherabroad.nl, https://www.iamexpat.nl/career, https://www.dutchnews.nl/jobsinholland/, https://www.expatica.com/nl/working/.
If you have identified particular organisations which interest you, seek a connection in your network (LinkedIn can be a good start). This can lead you to an introduction to someone working there. Simultaneously, you could also consider an open application, and if possible, deliver it in person. This method is more effective in small- to medium- sized companies.
ACCESS career coaches and trainers offer courses/workshops about professional skills development, cultural awareness and global mobility. You can email them directly if you would like details about how they can help you.
What is the Europass CV?
The Europass CV is understood in every European country and it pays particular attention to your skills and competences. You can create a Europass CV on europa.eu/europass/en
What kind of CV and cover letter is customary to support job applications in the Netherlands?
It is important that your CV is clear, comprehensive and written on one page or two pages maximum, as it will give a valuable first impression of you, your skills and the experience that you have to offer. Companies are flooded with CVs and scan through the CVs, so make sure your CV markets you in the best possible light.
In the Netherlands, a cover letter accompanying an application is often known as a motivation letter. Its purpose is to introduce yourself to the company, clarify why you are interested in the role and the organisation, and how your skills and experience would benefit their organisation. A motivation letter usually has the following structure:
- Your reason for applying
- Explanation why you believe that you are the right candidate for the job and what attracts you to the company
- Concluding sentence stating that you look forward to meeting them to explain in detail what you have outlined in the letter
Tailoring your motivation letter as well as the CV to the role you’re applying for will increase your chances of success. Don’t forget, in the Netherlands a catchy application/motivation letter, both content and design wise, is sometimes more important than impressive grades.
What steps should I take to prepare myself for my interview?
Here are some useful tips to prepare for an interview. Some may be obvious, and some may be different from how you would prepare yourself in your own country:
- Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and correct pronunciation, and his/her title.
- Research the company, products/services, growth and potential growth in the future.
- Refresh your memory on the facts and figures of your present employer and former employers.
- Prepare the questions you will ask; the interview is about input and feedback from both you and the interviewer.
- Arrive on time – this is very important in the Netherlands.
- While the Dutch may appear to be very informal in their dress and appearance, it is still recommended to dress professionally when attending an interview.
- Don’t forget the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting your interviewer(s).
- It may help you to prepare yourself by knowing about the person(s) who will be interviewing you, so look them up on LinkedIn.
In the job interview, the emphasis is on your motivation. You may be asked questions such as why you chose that particular company or to name your skills and strengths, but also mention some of your less strong points and skills you do not possess. Give examples that demonstrate your skills and strengths (these are called competency-based questions) and also be prepared to answer questions about personal matters like hobbies and social engagement.
You will usually be interviewed by one or two people. Applicants often have to attend two or even three interviews. At the end of the interview, it is common for you to ask some questions.
Can I get some support and advice in looking for a job in the Netherlands?
If you are actively looking for a job but unsure about how to proceed, thinking about the next step in your career, considering returning to work after a career break, or looking for a change of career, you may find support useful.
There are several professionals and companies offering career counselling or coaching for expats looking for work. ACCESS has several trainers who can provide you with job hunting support.
Where can I find more answers to questions I may have once I find a job?
Additional information on working in the Netherlands can be found on the government website: https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/. Here you will find comprehensive information about who may work in the Netherlands, searching and applying for jobs, contracts, qualifications and credential evaluation, and the Europass CV.
Where can I find job openings for students?
If you are a student and looking for a job, the following websites can be useful:
Your university may have an overview of job openings for students in the area of your studies. If you have done an internship, you can also ask if that organisation has anything for you.
Aside from the websites listed above, the general tips in this section for finding a job can be useful for students too.
If I want to apply for a job, would I need a work permit as a student?
If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you are free to work without restrictions.
Highly educated persons scheme
‘The orientation year for highly educated persons’applies to all recently graduated students in the Netherlands from non-EU countries.
The residence permit orientation year for highly educated persons can be submitted within three years after completing the studies or after obtaining the PhD.
The scheme gives those graduated in the Netherlands the opportunity to first return to their country of origin after having completed their studies, and to then come back to the Netherlands. A work permit is not needed, which means that if you hold a residence permit for the orientation year for higher educated persons you are allowed to work in the Netherlands without any restrictions.
More information is available on the IND’s website.
Work permit application
Should you need a work permit to work while studying, your employer needs to apply for it at www.uwv.nl/werkgevers.
Exception for internships
If you are studying at a Dutch host institution and you need to do an internship as part of your study programme, you do not need a work permit. Your host institution and your employer do need to sign an internship agreement. Please note that this exception does not apply for exchange students. For more information click here.
How can I find an internship?
If you are looking for an internship many Universities have a database of internship options.
Study In Holland:https://www.studyinholland.nl/dutch-education/doing-an-internship will point out to you what to pay attention to when contemplating looking for internships in the Netherlands as part of your study programme.
The following links are a selection of websites offering internships in the Netherlands:
- https://stageplaza.nl/ : click on “ik zoek een stageplek” and write “English” in the ‘ zoekfilter’ to the right
- https://stage.nl/ : you can type ” English” in “trefwoord”/ Keyword box.
Please note that if you decide to accept a paid internship and currently have a student health insurance, you must take out a new, ordinary Dutch health insurance.”
Will I be paid during my internship?
Dutch employers are not legally obliged to pay you for your internship, though many give some kind of compensation, such as travel expenses. Others may be more generous and pay you a small amount. Be aware that you will have to pay taxes on anything you earn from an internship.
Do I need a work permit to work in the Netherlands?
Whether you need a work permit depends on your residency status and nationality. Work and residence permits are closely linked to your reason for moving to the Netherlands. For example, being a highly skilled worker, employee, student or family member will determine what kind of permit you need to legally work in the Netherlands.
Who applies for a work permit?
If a visa and residency permit are required, your employer can initiate the procedures on your behalf. If you qualify for a gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid GVVA (combined permit for residence and work), your employer needs to apply to the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service). In other cases, employers need to apply to UWV Werkbedrijf. Visit the following website for more information:
The IND website also provides detailed information on coming to work in the Netherlands as well as the financial and other conditions that need to be met.
You generally need to have your residence permit before you can start to work. If you do not need a separate work permit, you can start working as soon as you get your residence permit. The maximum length of a work permit is one year, and your employment status is indicated on it. After three years of employment on a Dutch work permit, you no longer need a work permit. Your residence document will state: ‘Arbeid is vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’ (Employment freely permitted. No work permit required).
Who doesn’t need a work permit
- EU/EEA citizens plus those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland Note: citizens of Croatia do need a work permit for the first working year
- Highly skilled migrants
- Self-employed workers (eligibility for residence is assessed by the IND)
- Workers on short assignment (journalists, guest lecturers, performers, musicians)
- Persons with a residence permit or passport sticker stating: ’Arbeid is vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’ (Employment freely permitted. No work permit required).
Latest information about working in the Netherlands can be found at Werk.nl https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/working-netherlands/.
Does Dutch employment law apply to me?
Dutch employment law applies to you, even if you have moved to the Netherlands with an expatriate employment contract governed by the law of your home country or if you are working for an international organisation.
What is a CAO (collective labour agreement)?
Most companies and organisations participate in a collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO (collective labour agreement). This is a written agreement between one or more employers and one or more trade unions about the labour conditions for all employees, such as wages, payment for extra work, working hours, probation period, pension, education and childcare.
The provisions in a CAO are often more favourable than those prescribed by law, but they may not contradict the law.
How do I know that my contract is in accordance with Dutch law?
You can also use the free legal services of Het Juridisch Loket for questions about your employment contract.
Which information is usually included in an employment contract?
You can find information about what should be included in an employment contract here
It is important to carefully check all the conditions of your employment contract before signing.
I want to know whether or not the employers in the Netherlands are obliged to pay a majority of the employee’s travel to work expenses, and if they're not, is there a way I can claim it back in taxes?
It is not compulsory, but most companies in the Netherlands reimburse employee’s costs for commuting to work. In the collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO (collective labour agreement), company regulations or in your work contract, you can find the applicable rules.
If you take your own car or bicycle to work, your employer can reimburse a maximum amount per kilometre.These costs are not deductible from your income for tax purposes. You can find the actual amounts here (Dutch only)
Travel costs are tax deductible if you receive insufficient or no reimbursement from your employer under the following conditions:
- you use public transport to and from work with both addresses being in the Netherlands
- you travel more than 10 km. one way
- you have an openbaar vervoer verklaring – OV-verklaring (transportation provider declaration) or reisverklaring (from your employer) as proof that you have used public transport. Bear in mind that you should keep any paper/digital tickets that you have used to travel to and from work
If you have a personal OV chipkaart, you can find an overview of all your trips and the costs at the website of the OV chipcard. If you are unsure of what situation applies to you, visit the Belastingdienst (tax office) website for more information on where to apply for the openbaar vervoer verklaring or reisverklaring. This will depend on the ticket you use (Dutch only)
Please note that you cannot claim a deduction if the employer bought the tickets for you. If your travel expenses have partially been covered by your employer, you can only claim the part that has not been covered.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have a temporary employment contract?
A temporary contract has a start date and an end date. The contract will end on the agreed date, though the employer is required to inform you in writing if the contract will be renewed at least one month before the end date. We strongly advise you to ensure that you get a contract in writing, although a verbal agreement is also valid in the Netherlands. The employer is obliged to inform you in writing of the main items covered in the contract within one month after the start of the contract. Within legal limits, both employers and employees are free to decide what will be covered by the contract.
You can find more information about temporary contracts here
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have a permanent employment contract?
The most important difference between a temporary and a permanent contract is that a permanent contract has no end date. This means there is no indication of any intention to limit the duration of the contract, such as “for the duration of the project”. Hence, and unlike temporary contracts, there is no mention of an end date in a permanent contract. Also the “term of notice” will be different for a permanent contract, since your legal position is different. The differences for terminating a permanent labour contract are explained below:
- A permanent employment contract can be ended by one of the parties. The legal terms of notice need to be respected.
- The rules are different for employers and employees. The employee has the legal right to end the contract without a procedure but he or she must respect the legal and agreed period, which is usually a minimum of one month’s notice.
- Both employer and employee have the right to go to court and ask to end the permanent labour contract.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have an employment contract with an employment agency?
The contract with an uitzendbureau (employment agency) differs fundamentally from a contract with an employer. The employment agency is your legal employer while you work in a company that hires you from the employment agency. In particular, your protection against dismissal during a certain temporary period is not regulated. On the other hand, both you and the company you are working for can terminate your employment at any given time during the agreed employment period. Uitzendbureaus have their own CAO (Collective Labour Agreement).
There is a Wet allocatie arbeidskrachten door intermediairs (Allocation of Workers by Intermediaries Act) that regulates issues related to uitzendbureaus. For example:
- Uitzendbureaus are prohibited from deducting any amount from an employee’s salary for the service of providing temporary work.
- Uitzendbureaus must inform temporary workers in writing about the working conditions at the place of work in advance.
Please note that a werving- en selectiebureau (employment/recruitment agency) is not the same as an uitzendbureau. If a placement is via an uitzendbureau, then the person works via the agency for the duration of the assignment, whereas with recruitment, you work for the company straight away, and the agency receives a fee.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have an on-call contract?
An oproepkracht (on-call employee) only comes to work when called upon to do so. The rules that apply depend on the type of contract. For instance, there are rules with on payment when no work is available, minimum hours guarantee or minimum wages for hours worked.
More information about on-call contracts is available here .
What are the rules for dismissal?
A temporary employment contract ends on an agreed date or during a trial period. In both cases, there is no dismissal procedure.
If you have a permanent contract, an employer must have good reasons to dismiss you when you have a permanent contract. More information about the rules for dismissal is available here .
I have some legal issues with my employment contract. Where can I get a legal assistance?
If you cannot clarify any legal issues you may have regarding your contract with your employer, you can seek information and advice at het Juridisch Loket (the legal advice office) free of charge. If they conclude that you need professional legal assistance, they may be able to give you some suggestions. Their website lists 30 offices throughout the country as well as contact details. It is possible to send an email by filling in the online form (form is in Dutch only). Sometimes contact by email is not possible. In this case, it is suggested to make a phone call.
It is good to know that individual labour disputes in the private sector are generally dealt with by a single court judge. Individual labour disputes in the public sector are regulated by administrative law and dealt with by an administrative court. Labour law is an intricate and complex field subject to changes. It is advisable to consult legal professionals when issues or disputes arise.
What are the official public holidays in the Netherlands?
Whether you are free from work on public holidays depends on the agreements made between employers and employees in the CAO (collaborative labour agreement) or those in your employment contract.
The Netherlands has one national holiday:
- Koningsdag (King’s Birthday) on 27 April
In addition, there are a number of generally-observed public holidays:
- Nieuwjaarsdag (New Year’s Day)
- Tweede Paasdag (Easter Monday)
- Hemelvaartsdag (Ascension Day)
- Pinksteren (Whit Monday)
- Eerste Kerstdag (Christmas Day)
- Tweede Kerstdag (Boxing Day, also known as Second Christmas Day)
What vacations am I entitled to in the Netherlands?
Every employee in the Netherlands is entitled to vacation with full pay. The right to vacation days is built up during the course of a year. The minimum number of vacation days to which you are entitled after one year is four times the agreed number of days you work each week (usually 4 x 5 = 20 days). If you have not yet been employed for one year by an employer, your vacation days will be calculated proportionately.
You will receive full pay during your vacation. In addition, you are entitled to a minimum vacation allowance. The vacation allowance is payable by your employer and is paid at least once a year (usually in May). Your employer must specify the amount of your vacation allowance on payment in your contract.. The vacation allowance amounts to a minimum 8% of your income in money (basic wage, bonuses and allowances).
The CAO (collaborative labour agreement) might include other agreements about the number of vacation days, the payment, and the amount of the vacation allowance.
Legal vacation entitlements can be saved up to six months. Any extra vacation entitlements (e.g. if you are entitled to more than the minimum number of vacation days) can be saved up to five years. It is also possible for an employee to exchange vacation days for money from the employer, but neither the employer nor the employee can force the other into such an arrangement.
Which possibilities are available for special leave?
Employees in the Netherlands are not only entitled to fully-paid vacation days, but also to several kinds of special leave such as:
- Emergency leave
- Parental leave
- Adoption leave
- Paternity leave
- Pregnancy and maternity leave
- Extraordinary leave
- Short-term compassionate leave
- Long-term compassionate leave
More information about special leave is available here.
I receive unemployment benefits from my own country. How do I maintain this once I move to the Netherlands?
In general, to receive unemployment benefits you need to stay in the country which pays them. Under certain conditions you can transfer your benefit(s) to another EU country, that is continue to receive your unemployment benefits from the country where you became unemployed. You can find more information at:
In brief, the rules require that you have a U2 form before you leave your country of origin, register as a jobseeker in your new country of residence, fill in your U2 form and submit it to the national unemployment agency in your new country. See below what you may bear in mind:
Staying abroad for three months
You can carry on receiving your unemployment benefit for at least three months from the EU country where you were last working – and up to a maximum of six months, depending on the institution paying your benefit.
Staying abroad longer than three months
If you want to stay abroad for longer than 3 months, you will need to apply for an extension from the national employment service in the country where you became unemployed: they may extend the 3-month period up to 6 months.
Apply for the extension as early as possible. You must apply before the end of the initial 3-month period. For full information please see :
Before leaving, you must:
- have been registered as an unemployed jobseeker with the employment services in the country where you became unemployed for at least four weeks (exceptions can be made)
- apply to your national employment services for a U2 form (formerly E 303). This is an authorisation to continue receiving unemployment benefits while looking for a job in another country:
On arrival in the new country, you will need to:
- register as a jobseeker with the national employment services within seven days from the date on which you ceased to be available to the employment services in the country you left. In the Netherlands, you will have to contact the UWV Werkbedrijf (Public Employment Service). More information at: https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/working-netherlands/uwv/index.aspx
- submit your U2 form when you register
- agree to any checks made on unemployment benefit claimants in your new country, as if you were receiving unemployment benefits there
I receive unemployment benefits in the Netherlands. How do I maintain this once I move abroad?
Applications for benefits under the Werkloosheidswet – WW (Unemployment Insurance Act) have to be submitted to the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV). If you move to another EU country or a country that belongs to the EEA in order to find a job there, you can take your WW-uitkering (Dutch unemployment benefit) with you for a maximum of three months. For more detailed information please have a look at https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/unemployment-and-benefits/transferring-unemployment-benefits/index_en.htm. Before you leave, you need to arrange this with Public Employment Service (UWV Werkbedrijf). Please bear in mind that the employee who becomes unemployed after resigning from a job is not entitled to receive this benefit.
More information at the UWV website (in Dutch only): www.uwv.nl/particulieren/werkloos/index.
Find the contact of the administration that you may have to get in touch on the country that you are moving to at: europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/national-contact-points.
I am currently unemployed. Am I entitled to an unemployment benefits?
If you become unemployed due to no fault of your own, for example as a result of the termination of a contract for temporary employment or if you are made redundant, you are entitled to a WW-uitkering or werkloosheidsuitkering (unemployment benefit). These benefits are intended to be a temporary form of subsistence income whilst you search for new employment.
Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV) determines whether you are entitled to a benefit, the amount you will be paid and how long the payments will continue. The amount and duration of your benefit will be determined on the basis of your previous salary, your age at the time you became unemployed and your work history. When determining if you are eligible for a benefit, UWV will, amongst other things, check if you have become unemployed through your own fault.
Information on receiving unemployment benefits can be found by visiting the UWV website (in Dutch only):
What are the requirements to be eligible for unemployment benefits?
The WW (unemployment insurance act) insures employees and civil servants in the Netherlands who become unemployed. If you are eligible for the WW-uitkering (unemployment benefit), you will receive 75% of the wage most recently earned (up to a maximum) in the first two months, thereafter 70%. To be eligible for the unemployment benefit, you must be available for work and satisfy the following criteria:
- You are insured for unemployment. This is usually the case if you were an employee within a company or organisation operating in the Netherlands
- You are below the retirement age of 65 and above the age of 26
- Your working hours have been reduced by your employer by at least five working hours per week and you are no longer entitled to be paid for these lost working hours
- You are immediately available for paid work
- Before becoming unemployed, you have worked for at least 26 weeks during the past 36 weeks (if you are a citizen of a European Union state or European Economic Area country and you have worked for less than 26 weeks in the Netherlands, the UWV will take into account the time you have worked in your previous resident country over the applicable 36-week period)
- You are not receiving a sickness, incapacity (IVA) or disability (WAO) benefit that precludes you from working
For occupational groups such as artists, musicians and film employees, a lower requirement of employed weeks applies. The length of your entitlement to this benefit depends on your employment history.
What is the procedure for claiming unemployment benefits?
Applications for a WW-uitkering (unemployment benefits) are processed by the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV).
The application for a WW-uitkering (unemployment benefits) is a three-stage process as follows:
You can apply for your unemployment benefit from 1 week before your last working day and up to 1 week after your last working day. Applying later than this can have an impact that your benefit will be lower. You can apply via the internet at werk.nl/werkzoekenden/uitkering-aanvragen/ww/ (in Dutch only).
You will need a DigiD (digital identification code). If you are not registered with DigiD, you can find out how to get one here. Please note that the application for your DigiD can take up to five days to process.
Once UWV has received your unemployment benefits application, you will receive an email from them as confirmation of receipt. You will then receive an email with information about what to do to quickly find a new job and how to use your personal UWV environment (Mijn UWV) and the Werkmap. Werkmap is the environment where you can place a CV, look for jobs, and track your job search activity.
You can track the status of your application for unemployment benefits on Mijn UWV if you are logged in with your DigiD (mijn.uwv.nl/iam/inloggen/).
UWV will contact you if they need extra information from you in order to assess your request.
UWV will get back to you with a decision letter within 4 weeks after you’ve submitted your application. The letter will contain information on whether you will receive an unemployment benefit, how high this benefit will be, and how long the benefit will last.
When you receive unemployment benefits, UWV will be monitoring that you are actively seeking a job. One of your obligations as a job seeker with unemployment benefits is to submit your job search activities to UWV via your Werkmap on werk.nl. Make sure to apply for a job at least 4 times per 4 weeks.
What is the transitievergoeding (transition compensation)? And do I qualify for it?
As of 1 July 2015, the transitievergoeding (transition compensation) was introduced. This compensation replaces the severance payment in cases of termination of an employment contract by the employer either via a court or the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV).
You are entitled to a transition allowance if you are dismissed or if the temporary contract is not renewed on your employer’s initiative. This right also exists if you resign yourself due to serious culpable acts or omissions on the part of your employer.
From 1 January 2020, you are entitled to a transition payment upon dismissal from the first day of your employment contract. The transition compensation is calculated as follows:
From your first working day, you will receive 1/3 monthly salary per entire year of service.
The transition payment for the remaining part of the employment contract is calculated according to the formula: (gross salary received on the remaining part of the employment contract / gross monthly salary) x (1/3 gross monthly salary / 12). This formula is also used to calculate the transition allowance if the employment contract has lasted less than a year.
Example: An employee is dismissed during his probationary period. The employment contract lasted a total of 5 days. The gross salary over these 5 days is € 800. This is considered as the monthly wages.
The calculation is then as follows: (€ 800 / € 800) x (1/3 x € 800) / 12) = 1 x (€ 266.67 / 12) = € 22.22. The employee will, therefore, receive € 22.22 transition compensation for the 5 days that he was employed.
If the dismissal took place after 1 January 2020, you can make use of the Transition Allowance Calculation Tool (in Dutch only) on rekenhulptransitievergoeding.nl/.
There are some exceptional cases in which the transition compensation does not apply, as follows:
- you are less than 18 years of age on dismissal and you have not worked more than 12 hours per week during your employment,
- your temporary contract is expiring, and you and your employer agree in advance that your contract will be continued within a maximum of six months and that the new contract can be terminated prematurely,
- your employer is bankrupt, has a moratorium, or is involved in a debt rescheduling scheme for natural persons,
- you have reached the age of retirement,
- you have been dismissed due to a serious culpable act such as theft or fraud,
- your collective labour agreement (collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO) contains an equivalent provision for a transition payment.
For further information, please visit the government’s website (in Dutch only):
What type of benefit is available if I don’t have any revenue/income?
The Wet Werk en Bijstand – WWB (Work and Social Assistance Act) grants a minimum income to anyone legally residing in the Netherlands who has insufficient means to support themselves. Social assistance is provided to a household and not to an individual. Therefore, if someone within the household has an adequate income, the household is not eligible for assistance. This means that someone without income living with a partner or parents with adequate income is not entitled to a grant. Social assistance is exclusively reserved for those in financial difficulty (due to no household income) to prevent hardship or poverty. Applications for social assistance should be submitted to your municipality. Depending on your country of origin and the time you have been in the Netherlands, applying for WWB might result that the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND) withdraws your residence permit.
What kind of benefit is available if I become ill?
Employers must pay at least 70% of the salaries of sick employees for the first two years. In the first year, sometimes 100% of the salary is paid. The first two days of sick leave may be at the expense of the employee, but this needs to be set out in the employee’s contract or in the collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – COA (collective labour agreement).
The Ziektewet- ZW (Sickness Benefit Act) serves only as a ‘safety net’ for employees who do not have an employment anymore and in some special situations such as:
- Employees who have lost their job in the first or second year of their sickness
- Temporary workers on sick leave who do not have a permanent contract with their employment agency
- Home workers
- Student trainees
- Unemployed persons who receive a benefit from the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV)
- Sickness prior to or following the 16 weeks of maternity benefit (female employees are entitled to benefits for pregnancy and delivery under the Wet arbeid en zorg (Work and Care Act) amounting to 100% of the daily wage for a period of at least 16 weeks)
- Bankruptcy of the employer responsible for continuing to pay the salary
- In the event of sickness in the first five years of having taken on a person who is partly incapacitated for work
- Sickness due to organ donation
After 104 weeks of sickness (two years), a review takes place to determine whether the employee qualifies for the benefit under the Wet Werk en Inkomen naar Arbeidsvermogen – WIA (Work and Income according to the labour capacity act). See more information on this section.
If you become ill in the Netherlands and want to recuperate in your own country, you need permission from your employer’s health and safety service (ARBO service) or from UWV. A doctor checks if this will not delay your recovery.
Applications for benefit under the sickness benefit act have to be submitted to the UWV. You can contact them on 0900 9294, or visit their website (in Dutch only) at: www.uwv.nl.
What kind of benefit is available if I remain ill for a long time?
The period of sick leave during which the statutory wage will continue to be paid is two years. During this period, both the employer and the disabled worker must do all they can to improve the worker’s chances of returning to work and to make use of all opportunities to reintegrate the worker into the employment process. After two years, there is a review for Wet Werk en Inkomen naar Arbeidsvermogen – WIA (Work and Income according to the labour capacity act) qualification.
Under this Act, a fundamental distinction is made between employees who are both fully and permanently disabled after two years and those who are temporarily disabled.
An employee who is both fully and permanently incapacitated is no longer able to earn their own living; due to sickness, their work capacity has diminished to less than 20% income protection under the regulation governing income protection for individuals registered as completely disabled, Regeling inkomensvoorziening volledig arbeidsongeschikten – IVA.
A person can also qualify for IVA before the two years of sick leave have expired if it is clear that the relevant criteria have been met (i.e. the individual is totally and permanently incapacitated). The IVA is 75% of the last full daily wage.
Employees with a partial occupational disability can be divided into employees who after two years of sick leave are less than 35% disabled and employees with a substantial occupational disability, i.e. who are at least 35% incapacitated. Employers are responsible for maximising the employment capacity of employees who are less than 35% occupationally disabled. After two years of sick leave, workers who are partially disabled (at least 35%) may qualify for disability benefits under Regeling werkhervatting gedeeltelijk arbeidsongeschikten – WGA (the regulation governing the re-employment of partially disabled workers). The benefit depends on how much you are disabled and – if you still have a job – your wages.
Applications for the WIA have to be submitted to the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV) at: www.uwv.nl/particulieren.
My payroll agency does not arrange pensions for its employees. As I am not a Dutch citizen, I am having a serious issue with a pension arrangement. Can you advise me on this matter? What should I do to set up a scheme?
During the years you have been living in the Netherlands, you and your partner build up an Algemene Ouderdomswet – AOW (state pension) , that is a basic state pension. In addition to this, you can set up a private pension for yourself and your partner. You can do this via a bank or an insurance company. They can advise you about the possibilities in your situation. Find more information about it at the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) website. That is the organisation that implements national insurance schemes in the Netherlands: www.svb.nl.
What is the pension age in the Netherlands and who is entitled?
The Algemene Ouderdomswet – AOW is a basic state pension insurance scheme. Everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is insured automatically, regardless of nationality. As a rule, everyone who has reached the pension age and lives or has lived in the Netherlands is entitled to an AOW pension. You will be paid a pension from the day you reach the pension age that applies for you. If you do not live in the Netherlands at that time, you may only get a part of your AOW, depending on the treaties between the Netherlands and the country where you live.
For every year that you are insured, you build up rights to 2% of the full AOW pension. If you have been insured for the full number of years (which is 50) you will get a full AOW pension. If you have lived or worked outside the Netherlands, you are likely to have been uninsured during certain periods and may get a lower pension as a result.
In 2021 the statutory retirement age is 66 years and 4 months. In 2022 it will increase to 66 years and 7 months; in 2023 to 66 years and 10 months; in 2024 to 67 years. As from 2025 the pension age will be linked to the average life expectancy and thus could be greater than 67. Five years before your retirement date, the pension age will be final. You can calculate your expected retirement date on https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/aow-pension-age/your-aow-pension-age.
The AOW is not designed to be a standalone income for retirees in the Netherlands and should be supplemented by a company/occupational pension (labour-based pension) or private pension scheme, or both.
Can you give me some key insights into Dutch business culture?
The Netherlands has a formal business culture in which honesty, efficiency, productivity and courtesy are highly valued. Expatriates from some cultures may find the Dutch businesspersons direct, blunt and not what they may be used to. Most decisions and agreements are made in open meetings rather than behind closed doors. Contacts and networks are important and you should try to arrange introductions through a third party. Find below additional information:
- Appointments should be made well in advance. Normal business hours are 09:00 to 17:00, Mondays to Fridays, although many workers start and finish earlier. Always turn up on time, as punctuality is expected
- Conducting business affairs over lunch is unusual in the Netherlands. Lunch is usually a quick snack, where most office workers bring their own sandwiches from home
- Normal business attire varies considerably between industries. Unless you are aware that informal dress is the norm in your business area, wear a conservative suit for interviews and meetings
- People should be addressed by their personal or professional titles with family names, unless you are invited to use first names. Academic titles are not normally used in speech
- Team structures tend to be flat, without much hierarchy, despite different levels of pay scales and responsibility
- Respect is gained through speaking one’s mind and being direct, thus avoiding wasting time. This directness of approach can sometimes be misconstrued as aggression or even rudeness but it is a tool for enabling the meeting to efficiently reach an agreed solution
- The Dutch can have some antipathy towards those who use pre-meeting lobbying techniques in order to arrive at group position to expound in the meeting. This pre-meeting lobbying, endemic in many cultures, can be seen as devious and underhanded and lead to accusations of ‘hidden agendas’ and inflexibility
- There is a relatively strong separation made between work and private life
- Colleagues do not tend to socialise very much immediately after work, and most do not invite business guests into their family life at all
The ACCESS trainers network also provides Dutch culture training. Other websites such as ExpatFocus.com or Interculturalprofessionals.com can also provide you with information and consultancy services about Dutch business culture.
How can I take my pension to another country when I leave the Netherlands?
Your pension can be split into two parts:
- The general old age pension (AOW). If you leave the Netherland, you stop building up your AOW. You will then get a reduced AOW pension when you reach the age at which you are entitled to this benefit. At the time you are retired, you might be able to receive the AOW you built up during your stay here. However, this is only possible if you are living in a country with which the Netherlands has a treaty at the time of your retirement. For an overview of the current regulations for several countries please look at https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/claiming-an-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands/you-are-going-to-live-outside-the-netherlands.
- The pension built up via your employer. If you leave the Netherlands, you might be able to transfer the pension you built up here to a pension fund in your new country. This is called international value transfer of your pension. It is advised to ask an expert to check if this is possible and if it is beneficial for you. He can also inform you about the steps to take.
For more information on this subject please visit the following website:
Will I be entitled to Dutch state pension (AOW) when I retire?
If you live in the Netherlands at the time you retire, you are entitled to AOW. As you haven’t lived in the Netherlands all the time you will receive a reduced AOW. If you don’t live in the Netherlands any more when you retire, you may be entitled to AOW if you live in a country that has a treaty with the Netherlands regarding social security. You can check what the regulations are for the country you are living in on https://https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/claiming-an-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands/deductions-from-your-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands.
My employer doesn’t offer any pensions. How can I arrange a pension myself?
Yes, you can do so. However, if you arrange something in the Netherlands, such as a lifetime annuity, it may cause problems getting the money when you have left the Netherlands. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with a financial advisor who is familiar with problems expats may have.
I am an international employer. How can I arrange a pension plan for employees who often move from one country to another?
Almost all pensions are based on the system in a particular country. This is also true for the Netherlands. There are several ways to arrange a pension yourself, e.g. if you are self employed but when you leave the Netherlands it is not sure if you can continue with it. For example, a lifetime annuity (lijfrente) is generally considered as an option but getting it paid outside the Netherlands is very difficult due to regulations.
For international employers there are options to arrange an international pension plan. Companies offering this are usually international banks and insurance agencies. Examples are Swiss Life https://www.swisslife-global.com/corporate/solutions/expats.html and Mercer https://www.mercer.com/what-we-do/wealth-and-investments/defined-benefit-pension-plans.html. These pensions can be called international pensions, mobile pensions or offshore pensions.
How is the Dutch pension system set up?
The Dutch pension system is made up of three pillars: Pillar 1 – The State or AOW (Algemene Ouderdomswet) pension, which is the basic pension paid out when one reaches the retirement age. The state pension is administered by the SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank). Workplace or company pensions funded by both employer and employee contributions. They are private or collective pension schemes connected to a specific industry, company or independent professional pension funds and are mostly managed by pension funds or insurance companies. Employees are entitled to choose their scheme preference within their pension fund. Updating your employer details with your pension fund is vital. More information is available on this website . Pillar 3 – Private pension schemes are funded by personal contributions that are voluntary. Self-employed individuals and employees in industries that do not have collective pension funds contribute to this option.
To summarise: If you have lived or worked in the Netherlands, you will receive a state pension (Pillar 1) which will be calculated proportional to the number of years that you have worked in the Netherlands.
If you receive pension benefits from a work pension fund (Pillar 2) depends on if you signed a pension agreement with your employer and if you keep track of your Dutch pension scheme. How much you will receive depends on your salary and the number of years you worked. Should you die, your partner may be entitled to a part of your Dutch pension. If you are not married, it is essential to inform the pension fund you want your partner to be egilible of a part of your pension after your death. If you fail to do so, your partner may not be egilible to receive any money from the pension fund.
You will only receive benefits from personal/individual pension (Pillar 3) if you took out a private pension.
How to claim your AOW pension?
If you live in the Netherlands, you will receive a letter about claiming your AOW pension about four months before you reach your AOW pension age. After you receive this letter, you can claim your AOW pension. If you submit a claim earlier, your claim will not be processed.
If you live outside the Netherlands, you should apply for your AOW pension six months before you reach your AOW pension age. How to apply will depend on the country where you live.
I have heard employees receive a holiday allowance. How much do I get and when?
In the Netherlands, all employees receive at least 8% holiday allowance over their gross income during 12 months. It is common to pay it every year in May, but another payment date is possible too. If you have worked extra hours and got paid for this, the holiday allowance is also calculated over this income.
What should I do when I am ill and unable to work?
When you are ill and unable to work, you need to inform your manager as soon as possible. Every organisation has its own rules regarding when you need to inform your employer. Sometimes you need to call the administration. You don’t have to give any medical information. The company doctor (bedrijfsarts) will invite you to see him if your illness lasts longer than just a few days or a few weeks. He will also advise your employer if you can do your work or if there are any limitations to take into account (e.g. fewer hours, no physically heavy work). If you would like to discuss anything with the bedrijfsarts when you are not ill, you can make an appointment. Sometimes employers don’t like this, but you have the legal right to see a bedrijfsarts.
Your manager will probably ask you if there is any work that needs urgently looked after by a colleague and when you expect to be back at work. When your illness lasts longer than 6 weeks your employer must get in touch with you to make a reintegration plan. This plan has to be finished six weeks after you became ill.
What is the difference between an internship and a traineeship?
A traineeship is a paid job for those who recently graduated, while an internship is part of a study.
An internship (stage) is usually a mandatory part of the education that focuses on learning. It is a work
placement or practical training arrangement that allows the student to gain practical work experience in the field of one’s study in a company. Internship is typically shorter-term work (3 months to a year) experience for students. Internships are usually not paid, but can be remunerated modestly. Because an internship is a learning goal, this allowance is not regarded as a salary.
A traineeship in the Netherlands is typically a starter’s position for graduates with a normal salary. Essentially you get paid to learn. A traineeship is a paid (entry level) position in a company/ organisation for a graduate who aims to develop professional skills etc. It is a job.