Human resources and employment law

Human resources and employment law

The most important long-term asset of almost any business is its qualified personnel. As mentioned before, the Netherlands is internationally renowned for its high-quality labour market. In addition, Dutch employees are flexible and have an excellent work ethic.

Human resources

The most important long-term asset of almost any business is its qualified personnel. As mentioned before, the Netherlands is internationally renowned for its high-quality labour market. In addition, Dutch employees are flexible and have an excellent work ethic.

Trade unions in the Netherlands have a moderate character and tend to operate on the premise of consensus. Union membership is generally low and where industrial disputes do occur, they are resolved quickly and pragmatically. Employers and employees cooperate in various ways. The works council, if in place, is one of the most important employee participation organs within a company. This cooperation also contributes to stable labour relations. As a result, growth in wage costs has been kept to moderate levels, while productivity levels remain high.

It is common practice in the Netherlands to include a bonus scheme in the employment agreement of highly qualified personnel. In certain sectors bonus/reward schemes are subject to specific statutory requirements. The wording of these schemes is of utmost importance, as the right design can have tax advantages and may save the employer unexpected costs when the employment is terminated. In addition, providing benefits (rather than paying a higher salary) can have tax advantages for both the employer and the employee.

On 1 January 2024, the statutory minimum hourly wage will be introduced, which means that there will no longer be statutory daily, weekly and monthly wages. Depending on the sector, the amount of full-time employment varies (e.g. 36, 38 or 40 hours per week). The minimum monthly wage will be determined by the actual number of hours worked by an employee. The introduction of the statutory minimum hourly wage may require adjustments to payrolls and employment agreements. 

While wage costs are moderate, it is important to notice that premiums for benefits such as social security and pensions are compulsory. They are paid by both the employer and the employee.

Dutch employers can also hire ‘self-employed persons’. A self-employed person is not an employee. In practice it is sometimes hard to make a distinction between an employee and a self-employed person. The employer should make sure that the Dutch Tax Authorities cannot consider the relationship with the self-employed person as an employment relationship. At the time of writing, the government is still working on further clarification and guidance with regard to when an individual qualifies as self-employed. Currently there is a suspension of enforcement of labour relationships with self-employed persons. The government has indicated that this will be resumed before 2025. In the meantime, enforcement is possible for the Dutch Tax Authorities in case of malicious intent or in case the instructions from the Dutch Tax Authorities are not followed within a reasonable period of time.

What can we do for you?

  • Up-to-date information about the developments in the Dutch labour market 

  • Advise about employment terms and conditions

  • Advise about the position of a self-employed person 

Employment law requirements

Dutch law grants employees a range of protections that create obligations and potential risks for employers. These include among others:

  • An obligation to pay employees at least the minimum hourly wage, which is a fixed hourly rate and is increased every six months (as of 1 January 2024 13.27 euro gross per hour for those aged 21 and over) and holiday allowance (8 per cent of gross annual salary).

  • Maximum work periods and minimum rest periods. This means a full-time work week that normally contains not more than 40 hours per week.

  • A duty to give each employee paid holiday leave at a minimum of four times the average number of days worked per week (i.e. 20 holiday days based on full-time employment). Giving employees 25 holiday days per year is considered as market practice. 

  • An obligation to include transparent and predictable employment conditions in the employment contract, e.g. the obligation to inform an employee about the procedural requirements and notice periods when terminating an employment contract. 

  • The limitation of the number of temporary employment contracts that can be offered to an employee (a maximum of three fixed term contracts within a period not exceeding three years).

  • Various benefits for the employee in connection with childbirth, adoption and other family situations, including the right to at least sixteen weeks of paid pregnancy and maternity leave (equal to 100 per cent of the employee’s monthly wage) and nine weeks of paid parental leave (equal to 70 per cent of the employee’s monthly wage, but up to 70 per cent of the maximum monthly wage of 5,754.40 euro gross) (as per 1 July 2023).

  • The obligation to pay employees during illness. During the first two years employees are entitled to: 70 per cent of their last earned salary, with a minimum equal to the monthly statutory minimum wage of 2,069.40 euro gross (during the first year and if 21 years or older - as per 1 January 2024) and a maximum equal to 70 per cent of the maximum monthly wage of 5,969.07 euro gross (i.e. 4,178.35 euro gross) (as per 1 January 2024). Note that the statutory minimum wage of 2,069.40 euro is used as a reference monthly wage, which only applies to a number of social security laws. The actual statutory minimum wage may be higher in the event e.g. a fulltime working week consists of 40 hours.

  • The requirement to establish a works council or an employee representative body. A company is obliged to establish a works council if (i) it employs 50 employees or more or (ii) it is obliged to do so by an applicable collective labour agreement (‘CLA’). An employer employing more than 10 but less than 50 workers is obliged to install an employee representative body if requested to do so by the majority of its personnel. If no employee representative body has been established, the employer is obliged to have a staff meeting (in Dutch: personeelsvergadering) at least twice a year or when requested by its employees.  

  • A limitation of the employer’s freedom to process personal data obtained about its employees and job applicants.

  • A general duty to provide a safe place of work, safe access and safe work systems, supported by related obligations such as consulting with employees or their representatives on health and safety issues and providing staff with certain health and safety information. This general duty of an employer to provide a safe place of work is also applicable with regard to the employees’ home offices (e.g. providing the right working tools such as chairs and monitors). 

  • An obligation not to discriminate against employees, including job applicants, on a range of grounds. According to several equal treatment regulations. 

  • The obligation to pay employees a statutory severance payment ('transition allowance') upon termination. Employees are entitled to a (prorated) transition allowance as per the first day of their employment (including termination within the probationary period) and if the termination or the non-renewal of a contract (incl. after sickness or expiration of a definite term contract) is initiated by the employer. The transition allowance amounts to 1/3 of a gross monthly salary for each service year. As of 1 January 2023, the maximum transition allowance amounts to 89,000 euro gross or to a gross annual salary, should that be higher than 89,000 euro. The gross monthly salary includes 8 per cent statutory holiday allowance, year-end allowance (13th month), structural allowances and bonuses. 

  • Several dismissal law rules and statutory protection from dismissal rules.

It is recommended that employers have a comprehensive employment contract in place for every employee, which includes all the terms and conditions of employment and in addition protects the employer’s business interests by imposing obligations on the employee (e.g. about confidentiality of business secrets or restrictions of certain competitive activities after the employment ends).


All foreign nationals who intend to work and stay in the Netherlands are required to comply with the immigration regulations of the Netherlands. The Netherlands has a less restrictive admittance policy for highly skilled workers of multinational companies who meet specific (salary) criteria.

EEA/Swiss national

No immigration requirements are applicable to EEA (or Swiss) nationals. In case the stay of an EEA national exceeds four months he/she needs to register with the local municipality in the city of residence (see ‘Registration municipality’ under ‘Non-EEA national’).

Non-EEA national

Which immigration procedure has to be initiated, depends on the specific facts and circumstances. The work permit procedure and the highly skilled migrant procedure are the most commonly used procedures.


UK nationals arriving in the Netherlands after 1 January 2021 are subject to Dutch immigration legislation. This means they are allowed to enter and stay in the Schengen area (which includes the Netherlands) for up to 90 days in 180 days on the basis of their passport. Their passport must be valid for at least 6 months. However they will require a work permit in order to work in the Netherlands from day 1. They will also require a residence permit in case their stay exceeds 90 days in 180 days.

Highly skilled migrant procedure

A residence permit for a highly skilled migrant allows a non-EEA national to reside and work legally in the Netherlands (without a separate work permit). The following requirements have to be met:

  • The company must be registered as a recognised sponsor with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (‘IND’).

  • The employee should have a gross monthly market conform salary of at least 5,331 euro (5,757.48 euro including holiday pay, figure 2024) or 3,909 euro (4,221.72 euro including holiday pay, figure 2024) if the employee is younger than 30 years old.

 Please note that a 30 per cent tax allowance for this category of employees might be applicable (see ‘Personal income tax’).

Registration municipality

In case the stay in the Netherlands is less than four months, registration as a non-resident in the Municipal Population Database at one of the eighteen designated offices is voluntary but required in order to obtain a Dutch citizen service number (BSN) needed for tax and payroll purposes.

For a stay of at least four months within a period of six months, registration with the Municipal Population Database is required.

What can we do for you?

  • Setting up a works council which can include but is not limited to drafting works council regulations, organising works council elections, time-planning etc.

  • Give guidance in creating a safe and healthy work environment 

  • Analyse whether the activities of your company fall under the scope of a mandatory CLA

  • Advise about Dutch labour law such as the various minimum leave requirements, (drafting) employment contracts and (strategies on) how to terminate an employment contract 

  • Advise on how to deal with personal data of employees

Accounting and audit

A company is required to maintain accounting records that are sufficiently adequate to determine the financial position of the company at any time. There are various regulations, including civil and tax regulations, stipulating the period for which the records should be retained. As a general rule, the records must be kept for a period of seven years.

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Knowledge Centre

Rotterdam, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 43 51

Jeroen Peters

Jeroen Peters

Tax Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 46 24

Mariska van der Maas

Mariska van der Maas

Director, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 422 10 29