Just started a new job in the Netherlands? Or maybe you’re wondering whether to accept a new contract? Expat employment law expert Godelijn Boonman of GMW lawyers shares her tips for assessing and understanding a new employment agreement.

So, you’ve been offered a new job in the Netherlands in 2022. The position sounds good, the terms sound reasonable, and you’re excited to accept. Now you need to check the contract before you sign it. The only challenge is that you may not know much about Dutch employment law – making it tough to understand what each clause means for your rights.

Know your contract type, know your rightsThe first thing you need to ascertain is whether you are entering a contract for a fixed period (temporary) or for an indefinite term (permanent). This determines which rules will apply to your employment – and therefore determines your rights.

If your contract has an end date, it is a temporary contract. The maximum length of a temporary contract is generally three years.

Start well: probation periodIf your contract includes a probation period (trial period), then you or your new employer can terminate the employment during the trial period without giving any reason. A probation period must be agreed in writing.

Contracts of less than six months may not include a probation period. Temporary contracts for longer than six months may include a probation period of a maximum of one month. Indefinite contracts may include a probation period of a maximum of two months.

In between: conditions and changesYour contract, together with any applicable general terms and conditions or Collective Labour Agreement, stipulates the conditions under which you agree to work. This includes key information such as the location of your workplace, your salary, hours, job title and the payment schedule.

In the Netherlands, you also want to check for:

Annual leaveFull-time employees must be given a minimum of 20 vacation days per year, excluding national holidays.

Vakantiegeld (Holiday allowance)Eight percent of your annual salary is reserved as “holiday money”. This amount may be paid annually or otherwise – but it should always be mentioned.

Unilateral changes clauseIf your employment terms contain a unilateral changes clause, then your employer can change the conditions of your employment without your prior consent. As this may include topics such as changing the location of your workplace, or a company requirement for corona vaccination, it is very relevant. Do note that this is not easily done by an employer. Even though the contract has this clause, the employer needs to meet strict conditions before they can unilaterally change your contract.

End well: notice and terminationMake sure you check your contract’s stipulations regarding notice periods and termination.

Notice periodsUnless otherwise agreed, an employee’s notice period is one calendar month. If you have been an employee for less than five years, then your employer’s standard notice period will also be one month. Note that different notice periods can be agreed  upon, but the employer’s notice period must be double that of the employee’s with a maximum of six months for the employee and therefore 12 months for the employer.

TerminationTemporary employment contracts terminate on the date they end. Indefinite contracts can only be terminated by: the employee resigning, through a mutual termination agreement, via a UWV/court dismissal, or by summary dismissal (being fired on the spot).

Restraint of tradeIf your employment agreement includes non-competition, business relation or partner relation clauses, try to negotiate these upfront; they could limit your future options.

If you need help assessing your new employment agreement, contact GMW lawyers’ team of English-speaking employment lawyers for assistance. Call 070 361 5048 or submit your question online.

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