Labour law

Employment contracts

Two types of written employment contracts are common in the Netherlands, namely:

  • an employment contract for an indefinite period
  • a fixed-term employment contract

The most important difference is the duration of the contract. It is common that many employment relationships start with a fixed-term contract (for one year or half a year).

  • Indefinite employment contract
    This employment contract exists as long as neither party terminates the contract. Certain rules apply to the termination of the employment contract, such as the observance of a notice period.
  • Fixed-term contract
    This employment contract has a fixed expiry date, for example it runs for five months or for the duration of a certain (specified) project. Fixed-term contracts can be extended under certain circumstances.

In the Netherlands, an oral employment contract is legally valid, but a written employment contract is highly advisable.

The following information must be in writing within one month:

  • Name and place of residence of your employer and you
  • Location(s) where the work will be done
  • Your position or type of work
  • Date on which you start the job
  • Duration of the contract, if it is a fixed-term contract
  • Wages/salary and payment date
  • Normal weekly or daily working hours
  • Any probationary period (max. 2 months)
  • Notice period

If a collective agreement () applies, there may be a reference to this collective agreement in relation to the working conditions. A cao is an agreement between employer(s) and employee organisations with a legal basis. About 80% of all employees in the Netherlands are covered by a CAO. Your employer must provide this information within one month of starting work. All of them also regulate the issue of occupational pensions.

These can be found on the website of the ‘Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid’ [Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment] and on the labour union websites.

Probationary period

It depends on the duration of the employment contract whether a probationary period is allowed.

Duration of the employment contract

  • 0-6 months: Probationary period not allowed
  • 6-24 months: Probationary period of max. one month
  • 24+ months: Probationary period of max. 2 months
  • Indefinite: Probationary period of max. 2 months

A probationary period must be agreed in writing. If it is not fixed in writing, it does not exist. During the probationary period you can be dismissed without notice and without any reasons. You can also quit your job yourself without notice during this period.

Minimum wage

In the Netherlands, the statutory minimum wage applies to employees aged 21 and over and the statutory minimum youth wage applies to employees under 21. For workers aged 21 and over, the gross minimum wage for full-time employment will be € 1,725 from 1 January 2022.

The minimum wage is adjusted twice a year, on 1 January and 1 July, in line with collective wage developments.

Holiday pay

As an employee you are entitled to statutory holiday pay (8% of your gross annual fixed salary). It is usually paid once a year, usually in May. For more information, see Holiday pay and holiday leave.

Dismissal after 2 years of illness

After 2 years of sickness in your employment, your employer will stop paying your wages. Your employer will probably dismiss you. The condition must exist that there is no possibility of reintegration with your employer and that the employer has fulfilled the reintegration obligations. If he has not fulfilled these obligations, the employer may have to pay your wages for another year. If you are dismissed, you are entitled to so-called transitievergoeding ([a type of severance pay], but prescribed by law; a maximum of €84,000 in 2021) under certain conditions. This transitievergoeding is paid by the employer.

Labour unions

If you are or remain a member of the German labour union DGB, you are entitled to advice, legal support and tax advice from the Dutch labour unions FNV or CNV.