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Netherlands Jobs: Employee Benefits

By Maartje van Amelsfort, Via Career Coaching


After some hard work you have managed to secure yourself a challenging new job. Congratulations!

In this article I will briefly elaborate on the main benefits that are arranged in the labour law and CAO so you know what to look out for when agreeing on your offer and signing your employment contract.

Employee benefits under Dutch Labour Law

In the Netherlands the relationship between employee and employer is arranged under Labour Law. In addition, most work sectors have a "Collective Bargaining Agreement" (CAO) which is applicable to employment contracts. The CAO contains agreements between employers and various trade unions who represent the employees.

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Holiday and public holidays - every employee is entitled to around a minimum of 4 weeks of paid holiday days a year. Every year there are 7 public holidays which are New Year, Easter, Kingsday (April 27th), Ascension Day, Pentecostal Day, Christmas and Boxing Day. Some companies also close on Good Friday and Liberation Day (May 5th).

Maternity leave - all pregnant women are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. The law states that you should inform your employer about your pregnancy at the latest 3 months before the due date.

Holiday pay - all employees receive a yearly holiday pay of 8% of your gross annual salary. This is usually paid out in May or June. If you leave the company earlier then the accumulated holiday pay should be paid out to you in the month your contract is terminated.

Health insurance - everyone living in the Netherlands is obliged to participate in the health insurance scheme (in Dutch: zorgverzekering). When you are employed your employer will pay for part of the insurance. The other part, the so called nominal fee, is to be paid by the employee. As a rough estimation you can expect to pay around €100 a month, depending on the additional insurance packages you choose. Many employers have an agreement in place with an insurance company to provide a good value policy for staff members.

Pension scheme - most employers have included a collective pension scheme in their CAO. The employee contributes monthly an amount deducted from their salary and the employer may also make a contribution. If your contract finishes with the employer, there generally are ways to transfer the built-up funds to another pension fund.

Calamity leave - if you are unable to work due to unforeseen circumstances, you can make use of calamity leave. The length of this leave can vary but should be in fair relationship to the matter. In principle the employer should continue paying you, unless other (CAO) agreements have been made, even if you give the reason of your leave after you return.

Additional leave - you are also entitled to leave days for: moving house, weddings, funerals, GP visits and more. Always check with your employer or review the CAO applicable to you.

Part-time work - if you have been employed for at least 1 year with a company consisting of more than 10 employees, you are entitled to hand in a request to work on a part-time basis. By law your employer is expected to obey your request, unless there are serious business related reasons why your request cannot be granted.

Working from home - more and more people prefer to work from home from time to time. This is as of yet not formally arranged by law. If you are interested in doing this, then I advise you to have a meeting with your manager in which you discuss to what extent your work can be done from home, what the advantages and disadvantages are, ways in which contact with colleagues in the office can be arranged and what a suitable frequency could be.

A note on Unemployment

If unfortunately you become unemployed and this was not your own fault, then you may be eligible for unemployment benefits WW (werkeloosheidsuitkering). The amount of the benefits is roughly 70% of your previous salary. All WW benefits are processed by the governmental institution called UWV.

The criteria for being entitled to unemployment benefits are as follows:

- Before becoming unemployed, you have worked in 26 of the 36 preceding weeks - in which case you are then entitled to the basic benefits package lasting 3 months.
- Whether your benefits will be extended after these 3 months depends on how many years you have worked.

You may get a redundancy payment as part of the severance package. This will again depend on how long you have been employed. Note, redundancy payments are considered income and you will have to pay tax on the sum.

Employee Contracts in Netherlands

[Editor Note: employment law is subject to change, the above article should be used as a guideline only]