Six Things To Check In Your Dutch Employment Contract Before Signing

Starting a new position can be a nerve-wracking experience. There’s a lot to learn — names, faces, processes, passwords for every system — and seemingly not enough time to do it. This is especially true if you’re moving here from abroad and are unfamiliar with Dutch law and their working culture. (Here’s a tip: Keep your Fridays clear for Borrelen

If you received an offer for a new position in the Netherlands, there are a few things you should check in your employment contract before signing. Once you understand the six details of your employment contract listed below, you can focus on succeeding at your new job — and enjoying the Borrelen.

Indefinite Versus Fixed Term

Before putting pen to paper, check whether you were offered an indefinite or fixed term contract. In most employment contracts, there is a specific clause (usually towards the beginning) which refers to the duration in which your contract is valid.  

If there is a date in this clause, your offer is for a “fixed-term.” You should expect to have a conversation with your manager before that date about extending or renewing your contract. In the Netherlands, it is relatively standard for employers to offer fixed-term contracts before a permanent agreement.

You’ll be able to tell if your offer is permanent if you see the phrase, “employed for an indefinite period of time” or similar. 

Trial Period (Proefperiode)

Most employment contracts for new hires will mention a trial period. During a trial period, either you or your employer will be allowed to terminate the employment contract without giving notice, or seeking permission.

Depending on the contract, the trial period differs. The rules apply:

  • 0–6 months contract: No trial period
  • 7–24 months contract: A one-month trial period is allowed
  • 25+ months contract: A two-month trial period is allowed

Vacation and Illness

Dutch employers are required to grant a full-time employee 20 vacation days, excluding national holidays. The number of vacation days may vary per organisation, but it is a significant point to take into account. Moreover, it is standard in Dutch employment contracts that 8% mandatory vacation money is included in the salary.

Another important aspect to look for in the contract is the sick pay. Dutch labor law requires employers to pay at least 70% of the employee’s last earned wages prior to sickness. The employee can retain this right for a maximum of two years and cannot be dismissed during the period of illness. 

Retirement and Pension

Most employers in the Netherlands offer a pension for their employees but it is not an obligation. Whether you receive benefits from the pension scheme depends on the pension agreement with your employers in the contract. There should be transparency about whether the pension contributions are taken from your salary and the amount. 

Notice Period

The notice period of an employment contract is relevant to know in the event either you or your employer would like to extend, terminate, or change your contract. Dutch law requires your employer to offer at least one month notice period, however you both may agree to a longer or shorter term.

The notice period both you and your employer must observe is determined by the amount of time you have been employed.

  • Employed less than 5 years: one month notice
  • Between 5 and 10 years: two months notice
  • Between 10 and 15 years: three months notice
  • More than 15 years: four months notice

In the event your notice period is longer than one month, your employer’s notice period will be twice as long.

Restrictive Clauses

Similar to employment contracts from your home country, Dutch contracts usually contain clauses intended to protect the business, clients, and other employees. It is worthwhile to familiarise yourself with these clauses. They may institute certain restrictions both during, and after, your employment relationship.

  • Confidentiality (Geheimhoudingsverklaring)
  • Non-solicitation
  • Non-competition (Concurrentiebeding)

Start A New Chapter In Your Career

It is always exciting to be offered a new job opportunity as it comes with a new role and a fresh start. However, it is critical that you understand everything in your employment contract that you are agreeing to before you sign on that dotted line.

Octagon Professionals are experts in employment law in the Netherlands with 30 years of experience. Job seekers are critical to our success, and that’s why our expert consultants are passionate about connecting you with the best job placements that match your skills and experience as well as helping you understand your particular contractual rights and obligations on your job search in the Netherland. Get in touch with us for advice!

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