Netherlands

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Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Netherlands on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

General:

There are many different ways of finding work in the Netherlands. However, more than 60 % of all vacancies are filled informally. Having a good network therefore improves your chance of finding a job in the Netherlands. Channels commonly used to find work include:

The UWV:

The UWV (public employment service of the Employee Insurance Agency) supports and assists jobseekers in their search for work. Registration with the UWV employment service is not compulsory.

Employment agencies, recruitment and selection agencies and secondment agencies:

There are many specialised employment agencies in the Netherlands. There are also recruitment and selection agencies, including headhunters. It is normal for these agencies to first ask candidates to take a psychological test or an assessment. As well as temping work, working on a secondment basis is also increasingly common. Among other things, employment agencies use this method to keep IT and other specialists in particular under contract.

Advertisements:

You are advised to consult the Dutch newspapers for vacancies. The Saturday editions of national newspapers contain the most vacancies.

Internet:

Online applications on companies’ websites and the use of CV databases, such as that of EURES and the UWV, are the norm. Employers use CV databases to recruit candidates. If you can understand Dutch, you can use the UWV website www.werk.nl.

Job fairs:

Job fairs, particularly speed dates, are becoming increasingly popular. They are organised by, among others:

Keep an eye on the websites of these organisations, among others, for dates and locations.

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How to apply for a job

The Netherlands has its own (unwritten) rules concerning job applications. Below you can find information that may be useful when applying for work.

With regard to the job application procedure it can be said that:

Social media are particularly useful for keeping an eye on interesting companies and staying up to date with the latest vacancies. (Please note: when it comes to applying for a job, social media can make or break you, as employers also use social media to find out more about you.)

Application letters are more appreciated if:

As regards the structure of your letter:

The Curriculum Vitae (CV):

The order in a CV should be:

   1. personal details;

   2. education (including relevant courses, exact start and end dates and whether you have a degree; start with your most recent education);

   3. work experience (including exact start and end dates); start with your most recent job; mention the name of the employer and the tasks carried out;

   4. hobbies and voluntary work.

References and copies of certificates need not be attached. These can be taken with you to the interview.

Résumés are becoming increasingly common, especially for people with considerable work experience. They are also often used for unsolicited applications to headhunters. The most common features of a résumé are that they:

You may choose the layout of a résumé, whether it be historical, analytical, chronological, functional or creative.

Application forms: application forms are mainly used by large-scale employers and for online applications.

The Europass CV

The Europass CV is not yet widely known about and/or well established amongst employers in the Netherlands. For the time being, use of the standard CV that is customary in the Netherlands is recommended, especially for unsolicited job applications. An example of a Dutch CV can be found at www.werk.nl

With regard to job interviews in the Netherlands:

Unsolicited job applications:

Unsolicited (‘on-spec’) job applications are very common in the Netherlands. It is not unusual to phone the company beforehand, for both unsolicited and targeted applications. However, make sure you have first prepared a number of clear questions. There are several channels for obtaining information about companies:

Guides on applying for jobs in the Netherlands:

‘Klaar om de stap te wagen?’ (Ready to take the plunge?), available from the nearest EURES adviser in your country.

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Finding accommodation

It is not always easy to find accommodation in the Netherlands. Affordable housing is in particularly short supply in the Randstad (the area around the major cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht). It can also be hard to find accommodation in university cities such as Leiden, Groningen and Maastricht, either to rent or to buy. There is a high level of demand for housing and a decreasing supply of affordable accommodation.

Renting:

It is common to rent residential accommodation.

You can begin your search for accommodation by contacting the local authority and asking for information for people seeking accommodation. The local authority can tell you what municipal rules apply and how you can contact the housing corporations. You can register with the housing corporations for rented accommodation.

The rent usually consists of two parts. The first part is the basic rent. The second consists of the service charges. A maximum rent is agreed for each dwelling. The maximum rent is determined using a points system (based on a property valuation system). In the Netherlands, accommodation is available through the private sector (e.g. estate agents) or in the form of social rented accommodation (housing corporations). In the Randstad conurbation of the western Netherlands (comprising the four largest Dutch cities), private sector rents are well above those of other regions and often exclude service charges such as gas, water and lighting.

Outside the Randstad you can generally expect to pay lower rents excluding service charges (gas, water and lighting), depending on factors including the type (apartment, family home, etc.) and size of the accommodation (number of m2).

Housing corporations are subject to the maximum rent standard. This is the percentage by which the average rent calculated over all the accommodation of a particular corporation as of 1 July may rise. The maximum rent standard is also determined by the rate of inflation for the previous year.

Service charges are charges paid by the tenant over and above the basic rent, in accordance with the lease. Many tenants pay a monthly advance on these service charges. In return, the landlord provides specific services set out in the lease. For example, the tenant might pay for gas, water and electricity or for cleaning communal areas, such as stairwells. The landlord is required to provide an annual statement of the service charges paid. On the basis of this statement, the service charges to be paid by the tenant can be calculated. These charges can then be offset against the advances paid.

Buying:

When looking for accommodation to buy you can consult estate agencies’ websites and advertisements in newspapers and visit estate agencies in person.

Information on mortgages can be obtained from banks, other mortgage lenders and mortgage advisers. Mortgages are generally entered into for a duration of 30 years, although other periods are also possible.

You are entitled to tax relief on your mortgage interest payments. When buying property, you are required to pay 2 % transfer tax, unless the purchase involves a new property.

The average property price in January 2020 was over EUR 300 000. The average prices are lowest in East Groningen and Limburg provinces. In the centre and west of the Netherlands prices are significantly higher.

Lastly, the average price of apartments is EUR 220 000 nationally but has been increasing for some time due to a lack of supply.

As at the beginning of 2020, the still increasingly tight housing market, improving economy and low interest rates are continuing to push prices up. The prices given above are for guidance only and may vary from place to place and from one type of housing to another.

General sentences

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Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the E

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

​​​​​​​Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

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Types of employment

The last few years have witnessed a sharp rise in the use of flexible employment contracts (‘flexworkers’). An increasing number of employees have a temporary contract, a temping job or an on-call contract. Temporary employment is an accepted phenomenon and a good way of gaining work experience. Work experience is considered extremely important in the Netherlands.

There is special legislation governing flexible employment contracts: the Balanced Labour Market Act (WAB). Workers with a permanent contract often have better employment conditions and more rights than flexible workers. The Dutch Government is keen to close the gap between permanent and flexible contracts. On-call and payroll workers have therefore been given greater security. Offering a permanent contract has also now been made a more attractive option for employers.

Alongside these forms of contract there are also possibilities for entering into an apprenticeship contract.

Within all these different types of employment contract, many employees work part time.

Other forms of employment include self-employed work with or without staff (see Chapter 3.6 Self-employment) and voluntary work.

One special category is that of street artist.

Street artists are people who provide a service in the fields of: 

As a street artist, you do not need a work permit to carry out the activities associated with this occupation.

For a short stay in the Netherlands, EU nationals do not need a residence permit. However, you must be able to identify yourself at all times by means of a valid EU passport, EU ID card or EU driving licence.

You must have sufficient funds to be able to support yourself. You must also have medical and accident insurance. Ask the local authority where you want to work if a permit is necessary in return for payment of a fee. The local authority can impose rules, so ask about these when you apply for a permit.

The local authority will need your address. You should make sure you have arranged for accommodation before you apply to the local authority.

NB: Even street artists must pay tax in the Netherlands.

Street artists must declare their income from street activities for tax purposes.

Voluntary work:

The performance of unpaid work as a member of an organisation for:

However, voluntary work is not highly regulated. As a volunteer you are dependent on agreements made with the organisation you work for.

Seasonal work

This means employees who do extra work during a certain period. At the end of a season, the work ends automatically. Seasonal work is common in the agricultural sector, the catering industry and the tourist sector. These are activities that are seasonal due to climatic or natural conditions and that can be carried out for a maximum of nine months per year. Holiday workers are also regarded as seasonal workers, with the difference that holiday workers are mostly students and pupils.

Laws and regulations

You can demonstrate, with a valid passport / ID card, issued by an EU / EEA member state or Switzerland, that you can stay in the Netherlands and work (seasonally).

There is no obligation to offer seasonal workers a fixed number of hours.

If there is a collective labour agreement, it must be described which rules apply to seasonal workers, and to which positions this applies. For seasonal work in the agricultural sector, the employer must offer housing that meets the standards of flexible living (SNF quality mark).

Contract

Seasonal work is a variant of a fixed-term employment contract. It is therefore a normal employment contract to which the rules of employment law fully apply. A season contract automatically ends on the agreed date, after the end of the season or when the specified event commences. There is no employment contract for the remaining period of the year.

In the Netherlands there are legal rules about working hours. They apply to everyone. The employer must pay the seasonal workers at least the statutory minimum wage. If you work more than is stated in your contract, that is overtime. You usually get more wages for overtime. Continued payment in the event of illness: up to the end of the determined contract.

Seasonal work under COVID-19 restrictive measures

The Dutch government has taken a number of measures to protect health, including keeping a distance (in the workplace or during travel by public transport, etc.). These measures have consequences for the way in which you have to work or what your employer must take into account.

Links: 

Living & Working in the Netherlands; www.government.nl (search for ministry of social affairs and employment > brochure ‘new-in the Netherlands’)

CAO Uitzendorganisaties; www.abu.nl (search CAO (Dutch/English)) / www.nbbu.nl (search working in the Netherlands > CAO (English))

Short video about flex working; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm2Kl8dpQKU&feature=youtu.be 

Living & Working in the Netherlands; www.werk.nl/eures (Living & Working in the Netherlands in 7 languages)

Seasonal work in agriculture and garden sector; www.seasonalwork.nl 

Independent NGO Fairwork; www.fairwork.nl (several languages)

Flexible Living Standardisation Foundation (Stichting Normering Flexwonen - SNF keurmerk); www.normeringflexwonen.nl 

Corona measures; www.rijksoverheid.nl / www.government.nl / www.rivm.nl 

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Employment contracts

A verbal contract of employment is legally valid in the Netherlands. However, we recommend that you set the most important agreements down in writing.

Two forms of written employment contract are commonly used in the Netherlands, namely

The most important difference is the duration of the contract. It is normal for many terms of employment to begin with a temporary contract (for 6 months or a year).

Permanent contracts

This contract runs for as long as neither party terminates it. Certain rules govern its termination, such as observing a period of notice.

Temporary contracts

This employment contract has an end date: it is entered into for a period of, for example, 5 months or for the duration of a particular (narrowly defined) project.
Temporary contracts may be extended under certain conditions.

In any event, you must have the following agreements set down in writing:

If a collective labour agreement applies, this can be referred to as regards conditions of employment. A collective labour agreement is an agreement between employers and employee organisations with a legal basis.

Your employer must provide the information within one month of work beginning.

Modifications to contracts must be recorded in the same way as the initial contract. This is governed by statutory provisions; see, for example, the Working Hours (Adjustment) Act (Wet aanpassing arbeidsduur, Waa): www.rijksoverheid.nl.

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Working hours

By law you may not work for more than 9 hours a day and 45 hours a week. The average working week is between 36 and 40 hours. The Netherlands has a 5-day working week, although 4 day working weeks sometimes also occur.

All this is regulated by the Working Hours Act (Arbeidstijdenwet, ATW) and the Working Hours Decree (Arbeidstijdenbesluit).

The Working Hours Act imposes a number of standards on:

NB: There is a separate decree for the transport sector.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) has brochures with information on:

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Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

All employees in the Netherlands are entitled to paid holiday. The statutory minimum applies in all cases. The statutory amount of holiday each year is at least four times the number of working days each week.

Most collective labour agreements provide for an amount of holiday that is higher than the statutory minimum. The number generally varies from 20 to 30 days for full-time employees. Regardless of the amount of your wage, you can claim a minimum holiday allowance of 8 %; this is known as holiday pay. The employer also has to pay the minimum wage, on average, for any overtime worked. That means it is also required to pay holiday pay on these extra hours. Holiday pay is calculated on the full value of the overtime hours (i.e. including overtime, if any).

The Work and Care Act (Wet arbeid en zorg) should be mentioned in connection with leave. Among other things, this Act regulates:

Further information on the Work and Care Act and regulations governing leave is available from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

The official public holidays in the Netherlands are as follows:

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Remuneration

Minimum wage

In the Netherlands there is a statutory minimum wage from the age of 21 and a statutory minimum youth wage for employees below the age of 21. In principle, the minimum wage is adjusted twice a year (on 1 January and 1 July) in line with changes in collective labour agreement wages. Collective labour agreement wages are wages based on sector agreements between the employers and employee organisations concerned, the amount of which is at least equal to or higher than the statutory level.

For an employee aged 21 or above in full-time employment, the gross minimum wage as of 1 January 2020 is EUR 1 653.60 (see: www.government.nl > ministries > social affairs and employment > topics > minimum wage). This will be revised in July.

Collective labour agreements (CAOs) are also concluded on a sector basis. These also contain binding agreements between employers and employee organisations relating to wages http://cao.startpagina.nl/. Wages may then be higher, but this differs from sector to sector and often depends on the job (level).

Details of the various collective labour agreements can be found on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, SZW). An overview is also provided on the collective labour agreement home page (see www.government.nl).

It is normal in the Netherlands for a gross wage to be agreed. Your net pay is almost always transferred to your bank account.

This usually happens once a month, every 4 weeks or every week.

In contrast to gross amounts, net amounts are not determined by law. They may differ from business to business or from industry to industry. This is because of differences in deductions from pay in connection with social security contributions.

You will receive a pay slip from your employer.

This should at least contain the following information:

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Terminating an employment contract

General

An employment contract can be terminated in various ways:

Employees (and employers) are protected by the law on dismissal. This stipulates among other things that notice may only be given with effect from the end of a month. A different date may be agreed by collective labour agreement or employment contract.

Exceptions are possible during the trial period or if there is a substantial reason for doing so (e.g. theft); in that case, contracts may be terminated with immediate effect and without notice.

Permanent contracts

Employers cannot decide themselves which route to use to make staff redundant. Applications for redundancies on economic grounds, or dismissal on account of long-term incapacity for work, must be made to the UWV (public employment services). All other dismissals must be referred to the district court.

Employees who have been employed for 2 years or more may be eligible for a transitional allowance in the event of redundancy, as may workers whose temporary contracts are not extended https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/ministeries/ministerie-van-sociale-zaken-en-werkgelegenheid > search for ‘transitievergoeding’ (transitional allowance)

Temporary contracts

In the case of temporary contracts, employers must inform workers in writing at least 1 month before the end of their contract whether or not the contract is being extended. The same applies as regards further contracts of 6 months or more. This is known as the notification duty.

Employer

The period of notice to be observed by the employer depends on the length of service. Statutory periods of notice and periods of notice agreed by collective labour agreement apply here.

Employee

The period of notice to be observed by the employee is normally one month. The employer and the employee may agree a shorter or longer period in writing, up to a maximum of 6 months.

Dismissal permits

An employer can apply to the UWV for a dismissal permit.

Dismissal via district court:

Works council:

Companies with 50 or more employees must have a works council.

For employees, the works council is an ideal way to play an active role in the company and influence its policy. For the employer, consultation with the works council is a way of increasing support for decisions and strengthening trust between management and employees.

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The healthcare system

Medical insurance is obligatory when you live and/or work in the Netherlands. There is general basic insurance for each family member from the age of 18, which is administered by private health insurance providers. The level of the monthly payment is determined annually in November for the following year (1 January) and differs from one health insurance provider to another.

Those on a low income have the right to a care allowance (‘zorgtoeslag’). You may be eligible for this allowance if your income is EUR 30 500 a year or less if you are single, or EUR 39 000 if you are cohabiting. The precise conditions and the amounts applicable for the current year can be found on the Tax and Customs Administration website: www.belastingdienst.nl

General basic insurance cover is indeed quite basic. It is therefore recommended that for the cost of:

you take out ‘additional cover’. The basic insurance and additional insurances do not have to be taken out with the same insurance company.

A mandatory excess (EUR 385 a year, which may be increased annually) also applies to each insured party. This is a total amount that you have to pay first (e.g. for medication or a visit to a specialist in hospital) before you are entitled to have your medical expenses reimbursed (NB: There is no charge for visiting a general practitioner).

If you live in the Netherlands you have to sign on with a general practitioner (‘huisarts’). You can choose your own GP, but your choice is limited to the neighbourhood in which you live. Most GPs have consultation hours at certain times, for which you will have to make an appointment beforehand. If a specialist treatment is considered necessary, the GP will refer you to a hospital or medical specialist. Medical help by a hospital or specialist will not be given without a referral from a GP!

The only exceptions are:

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Income and taxation

Income tax is levied on the pay of an employee. The employer deducts tax at source and remits it together with the social security contributions to the Tax and Customs Administration. This levy at source is an advance levy for income tax.

Income tax is levied on sources of income in accordance with the ‘box’ system.

This comprises three boxes:

Tax is levied differently for each box. The income from the various boxes is not interchangeable. It is therefore not possible to offset negative income from one box against positive income from another box.

The tax rate for income from employment and home ownership (Box I) is progressive and is charged over two ‘brackets’. Each bracket has a fixed tax rate. As a result, the higher the income, the more tax paid.

Motor vehicle tax: the amount of the motor vehicle tax depends on the weight of the vehicle and the type of fuel used. This may vary slightly from province to province. The website of the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) contains a program for calculating this amount.

Local taxes:

The type and amount of local tax to be paid varies according to the local authority. Common local taxes include: property tax, commuter tax, tourist tax, parking tax, tax on dogs, tax on advertising, municipal tax on certain encroachments on public land (‘precariobelasting’), sewage charges, refuse collection charges, and legal fees.

Information can be obtained from the relevant local authority. Information can also be found on the website ‘Postbus 51’ (www.rijksoverheid.nl) or the homepage of your local authority.

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The education system

Children in the 5-16 age group are obliged to attend school by law. Compulsory school attendance applies to all children who live in the Netherlands or stay there for long periods, regardless of their nationality or religion.

A child must start school no later than the first day of the month following his or her fifth birthday. For example, if a child’s birthday is on 22 February, he or she must therefore attend school from 1 March onwards. The majority of children in the Netherlands (some 99 %) start school at the age of four. During this extra year, children can get used to going to school and have the opportunity to learn to understand and speak Dutch better. This applies in particular to children who speak another language at home. A 4-year-old child is not covered by the Compulsory Education Act after enrolling at a school, so the parents can agree with the school on their child’s presence at and absence from school.

After group 8 of primary education (public and religious education), children enter higher general secondary or pre-vocational secondary education. After 4 or 5 years, once the pupil has obtained a diploma he or she can, depending on the level of preparatory education, continue into intermediate vocational education or higher vocational or university education.

Tuition fees must be paid from the age of 18. Student loans are very common in higher education.

School holidays:

Certain periods in the school year are designated as holidays. Children may not be taken out of school for a holiday outside these set periods, except with the consent of the local authority (compulsory attendance officer).

A child is obliged to attend school on a full-time basis up to and including the school year (1 August to 31 July) in which he or she reaches the age of 16. This is followed by a partial attendance obligation. The young person must then follow a course for at least 2 days a week for one year at an educational establishment (intermediate vocational education or adult education institution or institution designated by the Education Minister). In the case of intermediate vocational education combined with a practical training contract, the attendance requirement may be less than 2 days. This partial attendance obligation can be combined with a job, depending on the type of training institution. Young people who leave school after the school year in which they reach the age of 17 are not subject to a partial attendance obligation.

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Cultural and social life

Dutch cultural and social life is rich and varied.

In particular, the Dutch painters of the 17th century (Rembrandt) and 19th century (Van Gogh) have had a major impact on contemporary Dutch art.

At the present time, Dutch writers, fashion designers and DJs in particular are regarded as influential. A calendar of exhibitions and events in the Netherlands can be found on the website www.holland.com.

Sport is also popular as a form of recreation in the Netherlands. As one fifth of the country consists of water, it is hardly surprising that water sports are popular. Other common sports are football, golf, tennis, running, squash and cycling. Skating is popular in the winter.

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