If you are planning to work in The Netherlands, it is important that you understand the Dutch Employment law which includes: work permits, dismissal, contracts, special leave and diploma evaluation. The information provided in this page is only to provide you with the basic details and is NOT by any means the official Dutch Employment Law. For the official law (in Dutch), please refer to the following link: http://cao.szw.nl/ For a list of other Ministries, please refer to the official State Website: http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/

Work permit
Depending on your country of origin, if you plan to take up employment in The Netherlands, you might be required to obtain a work permit before you start work. There are exceptions, including those working for International Organisations such as the International Court and the European Space Agency where the organisation will take care of all necessary paperwork, and the citizens of the European Union nations .Highly skilled migrants may also be exempted. Your employer can obtain a work permit for you from the UWV Werkbedrijf (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen), which is the office for re-integration, unemployment benefits etc. (formerly the Centre of Work and Income)
To apply for a work permit, you must be between the ages of 18-45. Work permits are issued for a maximum length of 3 years. Individuals holding working permits for 3 consecutive years, and have not moved residence outside the Netherlands since then, become exempt from the work permit requirement. Their residence permits can be endorsed with a note stating “Employment freely permitted” and “No work permit required”. If the residence permit is not approved (for example, the IND discovers that the applicant has a criminal record), then the work permit is automatically withdrawn when the residence permit is denied. If you are allowed to work in the Netherlands, then your spouse/partner is usually allowed to work as well. Please check with IND for confirmation.

Regardless of the kind of job you take, there is always a contract between you and the employer. You should ensure that you are issued and signed a contract before starting any job in The Netherlands. It is important to note that a verbal agreement is also valid in The Netherlands.
There are different legal rights and obligations depending on the type of employment contract you have. There are three common labour contractual options. These are:

  • Temporary contract
  • Permanent contract
  • Contract with an employment agency

Temporary contract
A temporary contract includes a start date and an end date. The contract ends on the agreed date and in this situation there is no dismissal procedure after expiry of contract. The employer is obliged to inform you in writing of the main issues 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.

Trial period
A trial period also known as probation, is common in all types of contracts. This period applies for both parties and must be agreed in writing. If the duration of the temporary contract is less than two years, the maximum trial period is one month. Exceptions can only be made when a Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) applies. The legal maximum trial period is two months, with no possibility of extension. You can be dismissed during your trial period without your employer giving a reason for dismissal.

Term of notice
On the end date,a temporary contract will end automatically and legally. There is no dismissal procedure involved for temporary contract. In situations where either parties (or one of them) want to end the contract before the agreed date, the option for termination of the contract before the final date must be part of the contract. If the employer wants to end the contract before the agreed date, he needs to follow a legal dismissal procedure. Contact the UWV Werkbedrijf (link to www.werk.nl) for further information.

Permanent contract
A permanent contract can be ended by one of the parties. The legal “term of notice” need to be respected. There are different rules for employers and employees. It is within the employee‚Äôs legal right to end the contract without a procedure though the employee must respect the legal and agreed period, which is usually a minimum of one month’s notice.
The employer however, needs to apply for a dismissal permit before terminating a contract. The term of notice depends on the duration of the contract on the day the employer applies for the dismissal permit. Most contract state the period in which the employer must respect in cases of termination of a contract. It is advisable that employees contact the UWV Werkbedrijf for more .Both employer and employee have the right to go to court and ask to end the permanent labour contract.
Contract with an employment agency (Uitzendbureau)
The contract with an employment agency (uitzendbureau) differs fundamentally from a contract with an employer described above. The employment agency is the legal employer in this case. However, the employee will work in a company that hires them from the employment agency. In this type of contract, the protection against dismissal during a certain temporary period is not regulated. The company the employee works for and the employee, can terminate the employment at any given time during the agreed employment period. Employment agencies have their own Collective Labour Agreement. There is an “Allocation of Workers by Intermediaries Act” (Wet Arbeidsbemiddeling en Allocatie door Intermediairs) that regulates issues related to employment agencies.

Dismissal from Employment
An employee can be dismissed if:

  • For (business) economic reasons. An employer can dismiss employees if for example the company closes down or moves operations to a different country.
  • For non-performance. An employer can dismiss an employee who is not performing well and is deemed no longer suitable for a job. This reason excludes illness (employees can not be dismissed if their non-performance is as a result of illness). Before an employee is dismissed on these grounds, the employer must prove that they pointed out the non-performance repeatedly during performance reviews and that the employee was given enough period to improve.
  • For conflict between the employee and the employer in which case the relation is beyond repair.
  • If the employee has serious conscientious objections to their duties and the employer is not able to offer the employee a different job or suitable work
  • When the employee is occupationally disabled for a long period of time
  • For improper conduct like breach of confidentiality or forge and falsified documents.
  • When the employee steals, refuses work without good reason or comes to work drunk.
  • When employer and employee mutually agree to the dismissal.

There are a number of restrictions for dismissal. An employee cannot be dismissed on the grounds of their gender or when they get pregnant.

The employer can only dismiss an employee :

  • After obtaining a dismissal permit from the UWV Werkbedrijf
  • If they go to court to dissolve the employment contract
  • In case of summary termination (the legal relationship between employer and employee comes to an end immediately, i.e. without any period of notice. For a summary termination to be lawful there must be serious misconduct or failure to fulfill obligations that can be deemed such an “extremely weighty” reason that the other party cannot reasonably be expected to continue the employment relationship even for the duration of the notice period)
  • During the trial period
  • With the employee‚Äôs consent

An employer must observe a period of notice as stated in the contract before dismissing an employee. In cases where the period of notice is not mentioned in the contract, the follow periods of notice are observed:

  • Employed by the same employer for less than 5 years: 1 month
  • Employed by the same employer between 5 and 10 years: 2 months
  • Employed by the same employer between 10 and 15 years: 3 months
  • Employed by the same employer for 15 years or more: 4 months

An employee can agree and consent with the employer stop work immediately. If an employee resigns, they must observe a notice period of one month or otherwise based on the employment contract as long as it is stated in writing.

Leave and special leave
All employees in the Netherlands are entitled to fully paid leave days and also to several kinds of special leaves such as:

  • Adoption leave (adoptieverlof)
  • Emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof)
  • Short-term compassionate leave (kortdurend zorgverlof)
  • Long-term compassionate leave (langdurig zorgverlof)
  • Parental leave (ouderschapsverlof)
  • Paternity leave (vaderschapsverlof)
  • Pregnancy and maternity leave (zwangerschapsverlof)

In this section, we will provide basic information on these regulations. Please note that these are NOT the legal regulations and the information provided here is simply meant to provide you with an idea of the rules and regulations. Please refer to CAO for better regulations. The exact legal and detailed information about holidays and special leave is available on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs (link to ministry)

Every employee in the Netherlands is entitled to leave with full pay.
The right to leave days is built up during the course of a year. The minimum number of leave days to which an employee is entitled after one year is four times the agreed number of days worked each week (usually 4 x 5 = 20 days). Holiday is calculated proportionately in cases where an employee has worked for an employee for less than one year.
Employees receive full pay during leave and are entitled to a minimum leave allowance which is payable by the employer and is paid at least once a year (usually in May). The amount of leave allowance must be specified on employee’s salary slip.The leave allowance amounts to 8% of employee’s income in money (basic wage, bonuses and allowances).The CAO might include other agreements about the number of leave days, the payment and the amount of the leave allowance.

National Holidays.
There is one National Holiday in The Netherlands:
27th March- Kings Birthday

Other Holidays
New Year’s Day: 1 January
Easter Monday
Ascension Day
Whit Monday
Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Liberation Day May 5 (Every 5 years is a Bank holiday. Next Holiday is May 5th 2015)

The agreements made between employers and employees in the CAO and in employment contract state whether the employee is free from work on these holidays. Employees must refer to the agreements for clarification. An employee can save leave entitlements for up to five years

Adoption leave (adoptieverlof)
An employee is entitled to adoption leave when they adopt a child.Both parents can take adoption leave. If the employee adopts more than one child at the same time, they can take the adoption leave only once. Employees are also entitled to adoption leave when they have foster children .The adoption leave may be between two weeks before to sixteen weeks after the adoption. The maximum amount of leave is four weeks, in which the employee will receive an allowance that matches their salary, up to a maximum amount.

Emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof)
Any employee can take emergency leave when need arises. This is the leave an employee can take when they suddenly and unexpectedly need to take time off, for example when the water mains in their house burst or their child becomes ill. The period should be reasonable, so the length depends on why it is needed. In some cases a few hours will be enough, in other cases a few days might be needed. During the emergency leave the employer continues to pay the employee’s salary.

Short-term compassionate leave (kortdurend zorgverlof)
All employees are entitled to short-term compassionate leave in cases where the employee has to look after a parent, a sick child who lives at home or their partner, but this applies only when the employee is the only person who is able to provide the care at that time. Unlike with the partner and child, it is not necessary for employee’s parent or parents to be registered at the employee’s address. Employee is also entitled to short-term compassionate leave to look after a foster child, if he or she is ill, provided he or she lives with the employee and a foster care contract has been signed.
Every twelve months an employee is entitled to no more than twice the number of hours they work in one week. During any short-term compassionate leave that an employee takes they will continue to receive at least seventy per cent of their salary from the employer.

Long-term compassionate leave (langdurig zorgverlof)
An employee is entitled to long-term compassionate leave when employed and are caring for their partner, child or parent who has a life-threatening illness.
Life-threatening means that the life of the person concerned is, at a serious risk over a short term. Every year an employee is entitled to a long-term compassionate leave for a period of up to twelve weeks, during which they are allowed to reduce the number of working hours to not less than half of normal. The employee will not receive any wages for the number of hours that they utilise for long-term compassionate leave.

Parental leave (ouderschapsverlof)
An employee is entitled to parental leave when they have been working for the same employer for at least one year and are caring for a child that is younger than eight.Both parents are entitled to parental leave. If the employee has more children, they are entitled to parental leave for each child separately. Employees are also entitled to parental leave for adopted children, foster children or stepchildren, provided the child is living with the employee. The parental leave is entitled to up to 26 times the employees weekly working hours.
Paternity leave (vaderschapsverlof)
An employee is entitles to up to two days of paternity leave after the employees partner has given birth.

Pregnancy and maternity leave (zwangerschaps en bevallingsverlof)
Pregnant employees are entitled to pregnancy and maternity leave, for at least sixteen weeks. The period of leave depends on the due date and on the date the baby is actually born. A pregnancy leave can be taken from six weeks before the date the baby is due. The pregnancy leave should start no later than four weeks before the baby is due. After giving birth the employee is always entitled to at least ten weeks of maternity leave, even if the baby is born later than it was due.
During the leave an employee will receive an allowance which matches their salary up to a maximum amount.

Diploma evaluation
It is advisable to have any diplomas gained in any other country other than The Netherlands evaluated in order for one to know what a particular certificate is worth in terms of the Dutch system.
In the Netherlands, two centres of expertise work together on evaluating foreign diplomas (IDW): Nuffic and Colo. They have set up an Information Centre for Credential Evaluation (IcDW) www.idw.nl

You can request for diploma evaluation when:

  • (a) You have a foreign diploma and you want to study in the Netherlands
  • (b) You have a foreign diploma and you want to work in the Netherlands
  • (c) You have a foreign diploma and you are interested in what it is worth in the Netherlands. You do not know yet if you want to work or study in the Netherlands.


The best thing to do if you are unemployed and are looking for a job in the Netherlands, is to go to the UWV Werkbedrijf (previously Centre for Work and Income), www.werk.nl and ask them to have your diplomas evaluated. The UWV Werkbedrijf will request a diploma evaluation on your behalf and tell you which documents you need to supply. The UWV will also pay the fees for the evaluation.
Individuals who have jobs in a non-regulated profession and are looking for another, they can apply to the IcDW for a diploma evaluation (www.idw.nl) but have to pay the evaluation fee themselves.
Individuals who wish to practice a regulated profession in the Netherlands, have to get in touch with the official body that grants admission to the profession in question. Individuals can contact the Dutch National Contact Point (iras@nuffic.nl) to enquire whether their profession is regulated in the Netherlands and, if so, which organisation they need to contact. This website: www.professionalrecognition.nl has more information about practicing a regulated profession in the Netherlands. Individuals have to pay any fees associated with the evaluation.

Individuals can request a diploma evaluation from the UWV Werkbedrijf (www.werk.nl). If the diploma has been evaluated through the UWV Werkbedrijf, then there is no charge applicable.