Practical matters, rights and obligations

Advocaat

When can I work in the Netherlands?

What you have to comply with to work in the Netherlands depends on your status.

Are you an asylum seeker (without a residence permit)?
If you are an asylum seeker, you must have a work permit (TWV). Your future employer must apply for it at the UWV. There are several conditions that must be met:

  • Your asylum application must have been pending for at least 6 months
  • You may work a maximum of 24 weeks (14 weeks for artists) during a 52-week period
  • You must report your work to the Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers (COA)
  • You must pay a personal contribution for childcare. The COA determines how much you have to pay. The contribution depends on how much you earn, and you can always keep at least 25% of your earnings. For more information, please contact the COA.

You do not need a work permit for volunteer work, but a volunteer statement is required.

Are you an asylum permit holder?
If you have a temporary or permanent residence permit, you are free to work or start your own business. You have the same rights and obligations as people with Dutch nationality, so a work permit is not required. In addition to a valid residence permit, you need a Citizen Service Number (BSN), a bank account and health insurance to work.

Are you a refugee from Ukraine?
You are free to work in the Netherlands. Your employer must report your employment to the UWV. You need a Citizen Service Number (BSN), a bank account and health insurance to work.

How do I get a Citizen Service Number (BSN)?
If you come to the Netherlands and want to stay longer than four months, you must register with the municipal authority in the Personal Records Database (BRP). You must do this within five days of arriving in the Netherlands. If you have not already registered, please do so as soon as possible. After registering, you will receive a BSN. This personal number is used for contact between you and the government, for example, to keep track of where you are studying, arrange health insurance or file tax returns.

You can register in the BRP at the municipal authority in your area. There are currently long waiting times. BRP registration sites have been set up to help speed things up. These are additional locations where you can register in the BRP. The BRP registration sites are located in Haarlemmermeer, Ter Apel, Budel, Zevenaar and Den Bosch. At a BRP registration site, you will be registered in the municipality where you currently reside. After registering, you will receive a BSN. For more information, visit https://www.mycoa.nl/nl/infosheetprint/1527.

Can I work from the shelter?
You may work from the shelter. If you are staying in a COA shelter, you must report that you have found a job and pay a contribution for the shelter. The COA determines how much you have to pay. For more information, please contact the COA.

Your employment contract

What types of employment contracts are there?
There are two types of non-flexible employment contracts:

  • Permanent contract:
    A permanent contract has no end date. There is often a probationary period during which you and/or the employer can decide to terminate the contract without specifying a reason. After the probationary period, you can terminate the contract by resigning with a notice period. An employer cannot dismiss you for no reason—there are strict rules for this
  • Temporary contract:
    Most jobs will start with a temporary contract that has an end date and usually ends automatically. There is often a probationary period during which you and/or the employer can decide to terminate the contract without specifying a reason. Your employer may decide to extend the contract after the end date. A temporary contract may be extended up to three times in a row or for a maximum of three years. After three extensions, you will often be offered a permanent contract

There are also four flexible contract types in the Netherlands:

  • Temporary agency contract:
    This is a flexible contract for someone working as a temporary employee for a company. The employment agency is your formal employer. There is no notice period.
  • On-call contract:
    Under an on-call contract, you go to work when your employer calls you up. You only receive wages for the hours you work. One example is a zero-hours contract, under which no fixed hours are agreed upon. You are not required to work a minimum number of hours, nor is your employer required to provide a minimum number of work hours.
  • Model agreement:
    This contract is often used between self-employed professionals and clients for a particular job. The contract ends immediately upon completion of the job.
  • Secondment agreement/interim contract: This is a contract under which the employee temporarily works for a client while under contract with a secondment agency or other employer

What makes a good employment contract?
When you find a job, you will enter into a contract (employment agreement) with the employer. The contract contains agreements you make with each other, such as about your salary. The contract contains the primary terms of employment (e.g., salary, working hours, holidays and holiday allowance) and fringe benefits (e.g., lunch allowance, pension and travel allowance).

Your employer is required to abide by certain conditions:

  • Minimum wage: a minimum wage applies, depending on your age and the number of hours you work. You will find information on the minimum wage here: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/minimumloon/bedragen-minimumloon/bedragen-minimumloon-2022
  • Holidays: you are entitled to a minimum of 20 working days of holiday per year which you can take yourself
  • Holiday allowance: you are entitled to least 8% of your gross annual salary in holiday allowance
  • Payment of wages: wages must be paid on time. If you are paid weekly, payment should never take longer than one month. If you are paid monthly, payment should never take longer than three months.
  • Probationary period: the probationary period may last up to one or two months. A probationary period is not allowed for temporary contracts shorter than six months.
  • Overtime: your employer must also pay the minimum wage for extra hours. You will also build up holiday allowance for those hours.

Some industries use a collective labour agreement (CLA). The CLA generally contains agreements on working conditions, such as an extra allowance for working outside normal hours. You will find all the collective labour agreements through the FNV (https://www.fnv.nl/cao-sector).

An employment contract must also contain a number of items:

  • Employee and employer contact information
  • Position and job description
  • Employment commencement date
  • Contract duration (in case of a temporary contract)
  • Number of weekly working hours, salary and payment
  • Length of the probationary period
  • Holiday allowance and number of holidays
  • Notice period
  • Pension scheme, if applicable
  • Collective labour agreement (CLA), if applicable

Tips:

  • Check whether you can combine the stipulated working hours with your civic integration obligations
  • Before you sign your contract, have it read by someone who understands it
  • Check whether you are covered by a CLA and whether these agreements are included in the contract

What if I am dismissed?
Your employer may only dismiss you if they have a good reason for doing so. Good reasons include reorganisation, incapacity for work, inadequate performance or unacceptable behaviour (e.g., theft). In most cases, your employer must first try to find another job for you. During a probationary period, an employer may always terminate the contract without giving any reason.

A number of rights protect you from being dismissed:

  • Prohibition of termination: the employer is not allowed to dismiss you in some situations, such as if you are ill
  • Notice period: your contract states how much time must pass between a notice of termination and the termination of the employment contract. During that notice period, you can continue to work and will continue to receive your wages
  • Withdrawal period: if you have already submitted your resignation, you have two weeks to change your mind. If your employer has not specified a withdrawal period, the period is three weeks
  • Transition allowance: you are usually entitled to compensation from your employer if you are fired. The amount depends on your monthly salary and how long you have been employed

What if I want to resign?
If you are thinking about resigning, make sure you try to find a solution to the issue first. This could involve talking to a confidential advisor or looking for another job before resigning.

There are several rules when you resign from your job:

  • A permanent contract can always be terminated but is often subject to a notice period. You are required to continue working during the notice period. You can only terminate a temporary contract if that has been agreed in the contract
  • Leaving your job is a big step that is not easily undone—think about it carefully before you act
  • If you resign before you have another job, you may not be eligible for an unemployment benefit (WW)

Practical matters: pension, insurance, tax and payment

Am I entitled to a pension, and how does this work in practice?

In the Netherlands, you build up a pension to arrange an income for when you are no longer working later in life. The pension you build up is held by the Dutch government, pension funds and insurers. The money is not paid out until you reach retirement age.

The Dutch pension system consists of three components:

  • Old-age pension (AOW): a basic income to cover living expenses. Everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands accrues AOW. Your AOW depends on the minimum wage and how long you have lived in the Netherlands. You do not need to have lived in the Netherlands your entire life to receive an AOW benefit. This is arranged through the government. For more information, visit this website
  • Pension through the employer: this is a supplementary pension on top of the old-age pension. Most employers have a pension plan where both the employee and the employer pay a portion of the premium. The employer is not obliged to have a pension plan
  • Individual supplementary pension insurance: if your employer does not have a pension plan, you can make your own pension arrangements. You can save for this through life insurance, annuities or investments, for example. For more information, visit this website

What types of insurance should I have? How and where do I arrange that?
When you start working, some social security benefits are arranged automatically through your employer. You must take out health insurance yourself. You must take out health insurance with a Dutch health insurance company within four months of the start of your residence permit. You have to arrange this yourself; for an overview of health insurers in the Netherlands, visit https://www.consumentenbond.nl/zorgverzekering/overzicht-zorgverzekeraars. The municipality will only sign you up with a health insurance company if you receive a welfare benefit. You pay an amount to the health insurer every month. If you have a low income, you will receive a healthcare allowance. You can apply for a healthcare allowance at https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/nl/zorgtoeslag/zorgtoeslag. Do not work without insurance—this is illegal and punishable by large fines.

You can also apply for invalidity insurance if you want to. Invalidity insurance provides a temporary or permanent income if you become incapacitated. Invalidity insurance is not mandatory.

How do I open a bank account?
A checking account at a bank is indispensable for matters such as receiving your salary. You can open a bank account at any bank in the Netherlands. You will need a Citizen Service Number (BSN), and the bank will ask for your “tax residence” (this is the Netherlands). Dutch banks offering checking accounts include ABN AMRO Bank, ASN Bank, Bunq, ING Bank, Knab, Rabobank, SNS Bank and Triodos Bank.

How can I get paid?
Your employer often pays your wages after a certain period worked (often a week or a month). The payment dates are specified in your contract. Your wages can be paid into a Dutch or foreign bank account. Most people prefer to use a Dutch account to avoid transaction fees for the payment.

The employer must pay you at least the minimum wage by bank transfer. If your salary exceeds the minimum wage, the amount above the minimum may be paid in cash. Cash payment is only possible if you also receive proof of payment. Without proof of payment, cash payment is a risk, as it may also be for undeclared work. Undeclared work is prohibited. Performing undeclared work while receiving full or partial benefits may result in your benefits being terminated. You are also not insured while performing undeclared work.

How does the Dutch tax system work?
You pay several types of taxes to the government. The taxes you pay are used for things such as roads and dikes, healthcare, safety, social services and education. If you have a job, one of the taxes you pay is income tax. The more you earn, the more taxes you pay. Your employer will automatically withhold income tax for you. If you are self-employed, you must arrange the tax payments yourself.

You must file a tax return once a year. The tax authorities will ask you to provide all the information about your income digitally. You should file a tax return if you receive a letter from the Belastingdienst instructing you to do so. They will calculate whether you have paid enough tax or if you have to pay extra or are entitled to a refund. You can get help with this from the Belastingdienst by calling 0800 0543.

You can file a tax return by logging in to Mijn Belastingdienst with your DigiD. A DigiD is a digital login to conduct government business online. You can apply for a DigiD with a BSN at https://www.digid.nl/digid-aanvragen-activeren.