You’ve just got a new job, or perhaps you’re extending an existing position. You’ve just received a new employment contract. Before you sign your employment contract, there are some key clauses to which you should pay attention.
1. Is the contract temporary or permanent?
Go for a permanent contract if possible. Dutch law offers a great deal of protection to permanent employees. An employer cannot terminate a permanent contract unilaterally. He/she needs consent from the employee or permission from the cantonal judge or UWV. If a permanent contract is not a possibility, remember that the maximum period for a temporary contract is two years and a maximum of three temporary contracts are permitted.
2. Is there a trial period?
If so, an employer can dismiss you without giving a reason. However, a trial period is not permitted in a temporary contract for six months or less. For a temporary contract longer than six months, the trial period may only be one month. If the contract is permanent, the maximum length of the trial period is two months. Employer and employee must agree upon this in writing.
3. Check the notice period
The notice period for an employer wanting to end an employment contract depends on the employee’s years of employment.
- Less than 5 years: one month;
- Between 5 and 10 years: two months;
- Between 10 and 15 years: three months;
- More than 15 years: four months.
An employee’s notice period is, in principle, always one month. An employer may agree upon another notice period but an employer’s notice period must always be twice that of the employee’s and has a maximum of six months. This notice period must be taken into account when terminating an agreement.
4. Money for vacation?
Your salary should always include 8% mandatory vacation money. This is standard in Dutch employment contracts.
5. How many paid vacation days?
You must be given a minimum of 20 vacation days, excluding national holidays. The total number of vacation days offered may vary, but is a significant point of attention in your contract.
6. Is there a non-competition clause?
Don’t just sign a contract with non-compete or non-solicitation clauses. Once agreed upon, the clauses are binding and can be a great nuisance when one wants to leave for greener pastures. Ideally, do not agree to these clauses. And note that they are not allowed in a temporary contract unless the employer can demonstrate a need for them.
If you have two years of service, and the employer wants to terminate the contract, he/she must pay severance, known as a transition allowance. This has changed in recent years and the allowance is far lower than the cantonal court formula which was previously the rule. So, try to negotiate a golden parachute if you are in a position to do so. You should aim for something like a month or more of salary for each year of service.
If you’d like to learn more about key considerations when starting a new job, you may also enjoy our new white paper about working in the Netherlands.
If in doubt, reach out
Are you unsure if you have negotiated for the best arrangements in your employment contract? If so, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialised employment lawyers, send us your question directly, or request a free legal consultation.
Godelijn experienced an international upbringing and education as an expat child living in Africa and England. Back in The Netherlands, she studied law at the University of Utrecht (1990). She then embarked on her legal career as a lawyer by working 10 years for the well-known law firm of ‘Wladimiroff en Spong Advocaten’. In 2000 she joined GMW lawyers as a partner and is the head of the Labour law and Pension section.
Godelijn specialises in international employment law and has extensive experience in dealing with both non-contentious and contentious international employment matters including (collective) redundancy packages and dismissal. She works for both companies and individual employees, enabling her to keep an open mind to both sides of a case. Naturally she helps her clients when a problem has arisen, but prefers to act before an escalation has taken place. Advice on a fair Human Resource policy is an essential part of her work.
Godelijn Boonman is considered to be the undoubted employment specialist for the expat community because she is bilingual, has a large international clientele and a wealth of experience in international employment law matters. She is therefore frequently asked to be the key note speaker at international seminars.
Godelijn has a keen interest in the international community and has been a member of the advisory board of ACCESS and the Women’s Business Initiative International since its beginning.