The Netherlands has become a main gateway to European talent for companies expanding abroad and as a magnet for business ventures from the United States, Australia, China and India.
In a fast-moving business world, companies also have to move quickly to extend their international reach. This is where Bradford Jacobs’ industry-leading success in global talent recruitment removes the dangers of tripping up by moving too fast without expert support and guidance.
As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and Recruitment Process Organization (RPO), Bradford Jacobs source top-level staff from any industry and any country for companies upgrading and enhancing their international expansion. The global reach of our recruitment specialists enables us to find the perfect fit for every role.
Bradford Jacobs’ expertise in international recruitment services is indispensable for expansion into the Netherlands. Our comprehensive knowledge of all Dutch employment sectors, and understanding of the culture and customs, guarantee an untroubled transition.
Challenges when expanding into the Netherlands
Some of the main benefits of expanding into the Netherlands come hand-in-hand with resulting challenges. Netherlands-based business are within 500km of around 200 million consumers; the road and rail network, airports and ports make the country highly accessible; the Netherlands has over one million foreign workers.
But … these figures add up to the challenge of an open, internationally-minded market which already has the overseas offices of hundreds of global companies and corporations. The ease of operating in the Netherlands means there is both domestic and international competition for companies looking to muscle in on the market.
But having decided to make the move, companies must comply with regulations covering registration, visas, permits, tax, payroll and complex employment laws. Before reaching this stage, consider calling for the expertise of Bradford Jacobs as your Employer of Record (EOR) to relieve administrative headaches.
The Recruitment Process in the Netherlands
Foreign employees must hold a residence permit and the employer must obtain an employment permit. Dutch, European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens are exempt from visas or permits. Individuals can be seconded to the Netherlands but remain employed by their foreign company.
Legal checks you can make on employees in the Netherlands
During the pre-employment phase, only personal data specifically relevant to the position applied for can be screened. Extra personal data about the candidates may be screened only if there are exceptional requirements for the vacancy that make it necessary.
How do you hire Netherlands employees?
- Companies must verify the identity of all workers with an original identity document and keep a copy in their records
- Registering with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration is necessary for companies hiring for the first time
- Companies must enter into an employment contract, detailing pay, working hours and any pension provisions
- Pay at least the Dutch minimum wage and agree holiday entitlement
- Ensure a safe and healthy work environment, draw up a risk inventory and evaluation
- Apply for work permit (if needed) or combined permit for residency and work
- Employers are required to find suitable accommodation for foreign employees
Basic facts on hiring in the Netherlands
Employer and employee must comply with minimum pay and holiday requirements in their contract. Twelve hours a day is the maximum for a total of 60 hours weekly, averaging 55 per week over four weeks. The maximum over 16 weeks is 48 hours a week.
- The most popular sectors are: Agriculture, energy, finance, healthcare, transport and logistics
- More than one third of job opportunities in the Netherlands between 2020 and 2025 will be for high-level occupations in science, engineering, healthcare, business and teaching
- Most employment growth will be in distribution, transport, business and other services
- Most job opportunities, around 34%, are for professionals
- By 2025, around 31% of the labor force will have high-level qualifications, compared to 21% in 2013
Work Culture in the Netherlands
Dutch business culture is relatively flexible. The openness characterizing Dutch society is reflected in the horizontal structure of business culture seen in many companies, where the managing director and employees are all considered co-workers. Executives do not usually display their power – but still have the authority.
Companies have specialized employees while managers are seen more as a problem solver or facilitator. There is emphasis on bringing multiple specialists together, thereby improving diversity and expertise. The Dutch like consensus so are fond of meetings, which combine informality with protocols and a strict agenda – don’t be late!
The Dutch traditionally keep their professional and private lives separate – don’t expect too much socializing.
What Employment Laws exist in the Netherlands?
Dutch law applies unless employees have an expatriate employment contract governed by their home country.
- Legally employers must first recruit in the Netherlands and show that no Dutch or EU nationals were suitable
- Employees who have a work permit for three consecutive years without moving their home from the Netherlands become exempt from needing work permits. Temporary contracts cannot be extended beyond three years
- Contracts are either fixed term (temporary) or permanent (for an indefinite period)
- Employers must provide a contract detailing the terms of the employment, such as location and nature of work, usual working hours, salary, holiday entitlement, notice period, pension (if applicable)
- Discrimination based on religion, beliefs, political opinion, race, gender, age, disabilities or any other grounds is unlawful
How do you onboard Netherlands’ Employees?
Migrating existing employees into the Netherlands, or recruiting new staff in-country, are the first stages of onboarding employees after sourcing suitable candidates. The parent company then has to deal with moving the staff, dealing with visa and work permits and ensuring they are compliant with all local laws and regulations.
The most efficient and effective method of onboarding employees into the Netherlands’ labor market is through the services of global recruitment companies such as Bradford Jacobs, who manage every stage of the process from finding the employee to seeing their first check is paid on time.
Bradford Jacobs’ global recruitment reach puts us in the front line of international talent acquisition and from there we step in to handle the intricacies of employment conditions, compensation and benefits, holiday entitlements, payroll and tax.
Bradford Jacobs devise specific onboarding plans to integrate your new employee into the company, with guides, useful information and resources to help them understand their role and local culture.
What are the Benefits of Netherlands Hiring Outsourcing?
A major advantage of outsourcing recruitment into the Netherlands is to avoid dealing with the demanding requirements of Dutch employment regulations, which are not conveniently grouped under a single law.
That is why outsourcing saves cost and time … outsourcing the search for global talent streamlines international expansion into the Netherlands and makes it possible to be up-and-running in days rather than spend weeks or even months setting up an in-country subsidiary.
- A wide-ranging and efficient talent search with reduced recruitment costs
- Control over capital expenditure and mitigate risks with ‘easy in, easy out’ operation while you explore new markets
- Quickly start new projects
- Focus on core business
- Improve flexibility
- Utilize Bradford Jacobs’ global recruitment experience and expertise
- Scale your global workforce to fit expansion blueprint
Do what you do best, outsource the rest … use Bradford Jacobs’ global recruiting and Employer of Record services taking care of selection, onboarding, payroll, compliance and providing ongoing support.
Working with a Recruitment Agency in the Netherlands
Recruitment agencies play a leading role for job seekers in the Netherlands and many of them specialize in finding places for foreign workers. Agencies match candidates to vacancies, working with companies directly to help fill their roles by tailoring the job-seeking and recruitment process. Initially, companies contact agencies with details of the role to be filled. The agency either finds candidates from their database or posts the vacancy online suggesting candidates for interview.
Bradford Jacobs, as a PEO and RPO, fulfils all of these functions but then takes the next step with its Employer of Record (EOR) operation, by handling all admin relating to payroll, contracts, tax, insurance and other compliance issues.
Employment Contracts in the Netherlands
Under Dutch law a contract can be concluded in writing or orally, but the employer must inform the employee in writing with respect to certain legal conditions.
Contracts can be fixed-term or for an unspecified period (open-ended/permanent contract). A fixed-term employment contract will automatically convert into an open-ended employment contract if:
- Successive temporary contracts cover 36 months or more
- A chain of three fixed-term employment contracts is continued
- One month prior to termination of a fixed-term contract of six months or longer, employers must notify whether it will be extended
- A probationary period must be agreed in writing and is not applicable for a contract of six months or less
Netherlands Minimum Wage
The minimum wage changes on January 1 and July 1 in line with average collectively agreed wages. As of July 1 2020 the gross minimum for employees over 21 was: €1,680pm or €387.70pw or €77.54pd. The amounts are for a full working week.
There is no probation period for a contract of six months or less, but employers may dismiss employees during this trial without grounds, even if the employee is ill. Employees are also allowed to resign without grounds, but either party can ask for reasons to be documented.
Employers and employees can agree a trial period in their contract, during which either party can terminate without giving a specific reason, but they cannot exceed two months.
One month’s probation applies to contracts between six months and two years or contracts without an end date. Two months’ probation is for permanent contracts or temporary agreements exceeding two years.
For more detailed information: https://business.gov.nl/regulation/trial-period/
Dutch law does not cover compensation for overtime, which depends on contractual agreements. Overtime is taxed highly, as much as 50%. Overtime and vacation pay and bonuses are taxed as special payments, known in the Netherlands as bijzondere beloningen.
Minimum periods of notice must be given both when a company releases staff or an employee leaves. Employees on a permanent contract must always be given notice, or when both parties have agreed a fixed-term contract can be terminated.
- Fewer than 5 years’ service – 1 month
- More than 5 years, fewer than 10 years– 2 months
- More than 10 years, fewer than 15 years – 3 months
- 15 years’ service or more years – 4 months
Employers do not have to give notice in the following circumstances:
- During the employee’s trial period
- Summary dismissal due to gross misconduct, for example
- Employee resigns with immediate effect following breach of contract, for example
Redundancy, Termination, Severance in the Netherlands
Dismissal by mutual consent is only valid if it is recorded in a written termination agreement (settlement agreement). An agreement on dismissal compensation or severance pay is also an option.
Dutch law strictly defines acceptable grounds for termination. They include if employee is disabled through sickness for more than two years; performance remains unsatisfactory despite warnings and opportunities to improve; misconduct and negligence; employee is in the Netherlands illegally.
An agreement on dismissal compensation or severance pay is also an option that can be agreed in the terms of the contract.
Pension Plans in the Netherlands
Options include individual schemes, company plans financed by a pension fund or through membership of compulsory schemes for particular sectors. Employers must inform staff about which applies.
Public Holidays in the Netherlands
- New Year January 1
- Easter Sunday and Monday during March/April
- Queen’s Day April 27
- Liberation Day May 5
- (not every year a day off)
- Ascension Day May/June
- Pentecost Sunday and Monday May/June
- Christmas Day December 25
- St. Stephen’s Day December 26
Working Hours in the Netherlands
The Dutch generally have clearly defined working hours and they respect them. Regulations govern how many hours per day people may work and entitlements to a break. These regulations are included in the Working Hours Act and the Working Hours Decree (ATB).
Between 36 and 40 hours generally comprise a working week, or seven to eight hours per day scheduled between 6am and 6pm, five days a week. There is a maximum number of hours set at 60 per week and a maximum of 12 hours per shift.
After a working day, an employee must have 11 consecutive hours of non-work time. Working a five-day week, an employee must have 36 consecutive hours of non-work time in a 14-day period.
Employees receive 30-minutes rest after working over 5½ hours, which can be split into two 15-minute breaks. More than 10 hours must include at least 45 minutes rest, again split into a number of breaks. A collective arrangement may include agreements on fewer breaks. But if the employee works for more than 5½ hours, he must at least have 15 minutes break.
Information on CAO, Sunday working hours, night shifts, on call and standby duty can be found at
Sick Leave in the Netherlands
Employers must report the sick leave to the Employee Insurance Agency if the employee is off for 42 weeks or their employment contract ends during the sick leave. The employee must be paid a minimum 70% of their previous salary and holiday allowance, unless a higher amount is in the contract. The maximum duration of payments is 104 weeks.
Holiday Entitlement in the Netherlands
Full-time employees have at least four working weeks paid holiday leave per year. Employers often offer up to 25 days or more. Vacations must be used within six months after the end of that year, unless employees have reasonably been unable to take holiday.
Holiday allowance is 8% of total gross salary, paid in May or over 12 months at the employer’s discretion.
Collective Labor Agreements (CAO) or contracts determine whether public holidays equate to a day off. The CAO may state that a Christian public holiday can be substituted for an alternative religious holiday, such as Eid Al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan or Chanukah.
Maternity / Paternity Leave in the Netherlands
Maternity leave totals four to six weeks before the birth and at least 10 weeks post-natal, with the mother allowed to add the remaining two weeks to her leave after the birth. Leave may be extended if birth is after the due date. Multiple births increase the allowance to at least 20 weeks leave.
- Maternity pay – Employers apply to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) for the maternity allowance for their employee
- Partner paternity leave – Employees are entitled to one week’s leave on full pay, which can be taken any time in the four weeks after their partner gives birth. Partners are entitled to five weeks’ unpaid leave and can claim 70% of their salary from the UWV
Work with Bradford Jacobs’ Global Recruitment Services
Bradford Jacobs’ PEO and RPO specialist teams bring their unrivalled understanding of the Netherlands’ employment market to the fore when consulting with international companies on their global expansion plans. Every aspect of hiring and recruiting in the Netherlands falls within our expertise and experience. Remove the risks, costs and uncertainty of establishing a subsidiary in the Netherlands by outsourcing your recruiting through Bradford Jacobs. Contact us now – we have the solutions.