Working in NL


Contracts and work conditions

What you need to know about the labour contract

Because the legal rights and obligations differ per type of contract, you have to consider what option suites you most. To help you make this decision, the basic principles of the different contract options are explained below. For more information go to the section about types of agreements (available in Dutch).


There are three rather common labour contract options. These are:

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

1. Temporary labour contract

A labour contract between the employer and employee is nothing more or less than an agreement between both parties. The employee obliges him or herself to work for the employer and the employer obliges him or herself to pay a salary for the work delivered by the employee. A temporary contract has a starting date and an ending date. The contract will end on the agreed date without a dismissal procedure.

We strongly advice that you make sure that you get a contract in writing, although a verbal agreement is also valid. The employer has the obligation to inform you about the main issues covered in the labour contract. Within the legal limits, employers and employees are free to decide what will be covered in the labour contract.


Trial period


The trial period is a very common part of a (temporary) contract with the employer. A trial period will apply for both parties and needs to be agreed in writing. If the duration of the temporary contract is less than 6 months a trial period is not possible. If the duration of the temporary contract is between 6 months and 2 years, the maximum trial period is 1 month. If the temporary contract is more than 2 years the trial period can be maximum 2 months. E

Term of notice


A temporary labour contract will end automatically and legally on the date agreed. This means that there is no dismissal procedure involved. A different situation occurs if either parties or one of them want to end the contract before the agreed date. In this case the option for termination of the contract before the final date, need to be part of the contract. If the employer wants to end the contract before the date agreed, he or she needs to follow a legal dismissal procedure. In this case it is advisable to contact the local Employment Office (CWI) to get further information.

If you will work on repeating temporary contracts for the same employers, the rules for a permanent contract will apply (if four temporary contracts with the same employer have been agreed within less than a three-month break between each contract).

2. Permanent labour contract


The most important difference between a temporary labour contract and a permanent labour contract is the fact that a permanent labour contract has no ending date (including no indication of any other intention to limit the duration of the contract - such as `for the duration of the project`). This means that the item`'the day the contract will end` included in the temporary labour contract, will not be part of a permanent contract. Also the `term of notice` will be different for a permanent contract, since your legal position is different. The differences are explained below.

Termination of a permanent labour contract


A permanent labour contract can be ended by one of the parties. The legal terms of notice need to be respected. The rules are different for employers and employees. The employee has the legal right to end the contract without a procedure, but he or she has to respect the legal and agreed determination period, which usually is a one-month notice minimum. The employer needs to apply for a dismissal permit. The term of notice depends on the duration of the contract on the day the employer applies for the dismissal permit. We would like to advise you to contact the local Employment Office (CWI) for more information if a situation like this does occur.


3. Contract with an agency


The contract with a temp agency or commercial employment agency (`uitzendbureaus`) differs fundamentally from a contract with the employer as described above. In the temp construction the temp agency is your legal employer while you will work in a company which hires you from the temp agency. In particular your protection against dismissal during a certain temp period will not be arranged. This on the other hand means that you are also free to leave during the same period of time. Temp agencies have their own Collective Labour Agreement. There is an `Allocation of Workers by Intermediaries Act` which regulates certain issues related to temp agencies, for instance:

Temp agency employers are prohibited from charging temp workers money (or any other consideration) for being given temp work. Temp agencies must inform temps in writing about the working conditions at the place of work in advance.


You can also use the services of a contracting agency which is roughly the same as a temp agency.

Working conditions

Working time


The law lays down a maximum working time of 9 hours per day and 45 hours per week. The average working week is 40 hours. The working week is usually organised over five days, with a mandatory legal minimum of one day of rest, normally Sunday. Persons whose religion observes a day of rest on another day than Sunday, may opt for Friday or Saturday.

Note: The maximum duration of work may be exceeded for certain activities or under certain exceptional circumstances.


The four-day week


In all sectors it is more and more common that people make longer working days, which allows them to work only four days a week (maximum of 10 hours a day). Because this is not the regular agreement, an agreement has to be made made with the employer.

Annual holiday


The number of days of paid statutory annual leave is equivalent to the number of working days a week multiplied by four, i.e. in most cases 20. Employers often allow five extra days. Workers receive normal pay from their employer, plus a bonus equivalent to 8% of annual earnings. If there is a possibility of a 13th month, it will be paid by your employer at the end of the year. Accumulation of leave entitlement is possible; employees can "save up" their days of paid leave. Collective agreements often provide for more days of statutory leave in the main sectors of industry: 22-25 days or more depending on length of service or age. There are also more favourable arrangements for holiday pay.

Cultural behaviour regarding work


People from other countries often find manners in the Netherlands very 'easy', less formal then they are used to. There seems to be no strict hierarchy. Even on the work floor, there are no large distances between boss and employee, so it seems. Still there is respect for one another, but it hardly shows in the way they address each other. 

Employees have their own responsibilities. In many kinds of work employees are expected to show a large amount of own initiative. 

Before going to a job interview, make sure you know something about the culture of the company you are going to apply. It helps you to decide what clothes to wear and how to behave. For a job interview it is better to be slightly overdressed then underdressed.