GMW lawyers – the legal partner for expats in the Netherlands

Expats face the daily challenge of building a new life in a foreign country with unfamiliar rules. As a result, many people are unsure about their rights. That is fine when things go smoothly – but when the going gets tough, it may be time to call a lawyer.

Lawyers for expats

When a situation escalates past a certain point, it can become impossible to solve it alone. That’s when you need a legal partner who can help you to work it out.

GMW lawyers has been helping expats in the Netherlands to solve their legal problems for more than 25 years. With lawyers who have been expats themselves, we understand the specific challenges and needs of internationals living abroad, and offer a range of legal services to support you. Our lawyers are experts in their fields, with the knowledge and the experience to provide advice that you can trust.

Areas of legal expertise

GMW lawyers can assist you with family and inheritance law, employment and pension law, property and tenancy law, company and insolvency law and liability law.

Family law – Our divorce lawyers can assist you with family law issues ranging from pre-nuptial agreements to divorce, custody, partner alimony and child maintenance. Our inheritance lawyers can help you to deal with inheritance issues and advise you on your rights and obligations as an heir in the Netherlands. They can also advise you about estate planning, and specific issues such as appointing an executor or a guardian for your children.

Employment law – Our team can answer your questions about employment contracts, pensions and human resource policies. We can also help you deal with employment issues such as dismissal, performance, illness, non-competition clauses, outsourcing, collective bargaining agreements, privacy and discrimination. Our clients operate in virtually every industry and vary from knowledge workers, directors, corporate level executives and civil servants to entrepreneurs and independent professionals.

Property law – GMW lawyers can help you in all aspects of property law. Whether it is about the purchase, sale, construction, project development, financing or rental of property, our experts can help you find a solution. We work with: housing associations, property investors, property managers, project developers, construction companies, local authorities and private landlords.

Company law – Our corporate and insolvency lawyers contribute to the success of SME’s, large and small international companies, non-profit organisations, management boards, supervisory boards and shareholders. From contracts to commercial disputes, directors’ liability and financial problems, we will help you find the best solution for your business.

Liability law – If you have suffered damage caused by a third party, you need trusted advice to help you hold them liable. GMW lawyers can support you in the event of personal injury, breach of contract, work-related accidents, unlawful acts, group claims and directors’ liability. Our clients include private individuals, entrepreneurs, directors, principal shareholders and non-profit organisations.

How GMW lawyers helps expats

GMW lawyers team of legal experts can advise you on your rights and legal options, and offer mediation and/or litigation where needed.

If you’re just starting to investigate a legal question, we recommend discussing your case with a lawyer. They can advise you about your rights and help you decide whether or not to take legal action. Should you decide to proceed with your case, your lawyer can then support you throughout the process.

How to get started

GMW lawyers offers a free 10 minute legal advice to discuss your case with one of our expat lawyers. Start a conversation by phone on +31 (0)70 3615048 or make an appointment online via www.gmw.nl/en

 

This article was originally published on Iamexpat

Lawyers and alcohol? Not always a good combination

There are many rules governing alcohol in the Netherlands, from how old you must be to consume it to restrictions on how much you can consume before driving. There are also laws covering who can serve alcohol, where alcohol may be served and even when serving alcohol is permitted. But regulations don’t end there. Lawyers and other service professionals face extra requirements that don’t just cover how they represent their clients, but also how they should and should not behave on their own time.

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What you need to know about discrimination in rental ads

If you’ve looked for rental accommodation in the Netherlands, you’ve probably seen a lot of property descriptions. These property descriptions may tell you how large the apartment or e.g. has good lighting. However, sometimes the landlord of the property wants to ban certain groups from applying (“Not suitable for students”), or encourage other groups (“Perfect for expats”). But, is this allowed?

Direct and indirect discrimination

The Netherlands doesn’t allow direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion, personal beliefs, political opinion, race, sex, nationality, sexual orientation or civil status. An example of direct discrimination would be if a landlord placed a rental ad saying, “No Belgians allowed”. Indirect discrimination can be more difficult to prove.

The sentence, “Only Dutch speakers allowed”, would be a good example of indirect discrimination in rental ads, since most people who speak Dutch are Dutch, thus this indirectly discriminates on the basis of nationality. Expats, defined under Dutch law as people who are temporarily living abroad for work, are not included in this group.

The lfow of the rental market law 2015

Last year, a new law went into effect governing rental properties. The Wet Doorstroming Huurmarkt 2015 (the Flow of the Rental Market law) covers a variety of topics concerning rental properties.

The Dutch government was concerned about complaints that the previous laws were too strict and that this inflexibility led to housing shortages and higher rents. Amongst other changes, the options for temporary rental contracts were expanded and the opportunities for renting buildings that were for sale were extended.

Group restrictions

Prior to this new legislation, landlords and rental agencies could only end the leases of a few groups: the disabled, the elderly and students. As age is not a group that is protected under discrimination law (for service providers, it is for employers), landlords could impose age restrictions on properties.

As of July 1, 2016, when the new law went into effect, more groups were added. Now there are six categories of people who can have their leases terminated if they no longer fall under one of the categories: the disabled, the elderly, students, PhD students, young people and those with large families. This is why, for example, a student can be forced to move out of a student accommodation after graduation.

For expats only?

Since many expats are looking for short-stay accommodation, the changes to the law have impacted the housing options available to them as well.

In 2010, a tenant association in Amsterdam requested that a judge determine if a real estate agent had broken the law when advertising an apartment in the building as, “For expats only”. The judge ruled that this distinction constituted indirect discrimination. So, our advice is to always make sure to carefully word your ads, if you are renting out a property.

Contact

Have you experienced discrimination? Or are you a landlord who is not sure what to include in your rental ad? Please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialised lawyers.

 

 

This article was published on I Am Expat.

Update article: December 2017

The Equal Treatment Act

Direct discrimination? Indirect discrimination? What is the difference and who is protected in the Netherlands? Last week, a court in The Hague ruled in favour of a family who sued their school after the school scheduled the class photo on Eid al-Adha (Offerfeest). The court found that the school had indirectly discriminated against the students.

Equal Treatment Act

Issues of discrimination in the Netherlands are covered by the Algemene Wet Gelijke Behandeling or Equal Treatment Act. This framework is derived from a directive put forth by the European Union, which guarantees protections for people on the basis of religion, personal beliefs, political opinion, race, sex, nationality, sexual orientation and civil status.

It’s not only schools that are covered under this framework, but also employers, service providers, government agencies and other organisations.

Direct & indirect discrimination

Both direct and indirect discrimination is forbidden. A company, for example, cannot publish a job posting which says that only Dutch applicants will be considered. That would be considered direct discrimination.

In the case of the family, the court ruled the school had indirectly discriminated against them. Indirect discrimination is often more complicated to prove. Indirect discrimination would be when there is a neutral policy, but that policy is applied in a discriminatory manner.

That same company cannot publish a job posting saying that only fluent Dutch speakers will be considered for the role either. Such a demand would be seen as discrimination against one’s nationality since most people who speak Dutch have the Dutch nationality. By requiring Dutch fluency, the company is indirectly discriminating against people from other nationalities.

Acceptable discrimination

However, such a job posting will not always be considered discrimination. Whilst it’s always illegal for an employer to say non-Dutch applicants will not be considered, it may be permitted to require Dutch language skills if the company can show that the Dutch language is required for the position in question.

In another case recently in the news, the European Court of Justice issued guidelines around a neutral workplace policy after a company in Belgium fired a woman for refusing to adhere to a company ban on the wearing of religious symbols.

The company successfully argued that its rule was applied neutrally, as symbols of all religions were forbidden, and that it was important for the company to appear neutral to its clients, making a case for allowing the indirect discrimination.

The court

In the Netherlands, there is a separate council that deals with incidences of discrimination. This council, however, cannot levy fines or award damages, so complainants often take their case to the civil court. The civil court can award damages and take other actions.

Decisions

The bottom line is that, in the Netherlands, the protected groups mentioned in the Equal Treatment Act must be accommodated when providing services. However, this accommodation is not limitless.

Companies, schools, government agencies and other organisations may engage in indirect discrimination if they can show that there is a need for this. Decisions are made on a case by case basis by the court.

Contact

If you have been discriminated against by an employer, school or other organisation, our lawyers may be able to help you. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Update article: December 2017

This article was published on I Am Expat.

The Dutch 30% allowance ruling

Under certain circumstances, internationals who come to the Netherlands for work can claim a 30% tax exemption. This means that 30% of the salary is paid without tax deduction. This tax-free allowance is considered a compensation for the extra costs due to living outside of the home country. When is one eligible for the ruling?

Criteria

Firstly, one must have a specific expertise that is scarcely available on the Dutch labour market. Overall, employees are deemed to have a specific expertise if their taxable salary in 2017 amounts to at least Euro 37,000. If their taxable salary is less than Euro 37,000, then in principle they seize to qualify for the ruling.

For employees under the age of 30 who have acquired a master title at a foreign university, a minimum taxable salary of Euro 28,125 applies. For scientific researchers at specific institutions and for medical doctors trained to become medical specialists no salary criterion applies. They always come into consideration for the 30% allowance.

Secondly, the employee must be hired from outside a 150 kilometer radius from the Dutch border. In the 24 months prior to the start of the employment in the Netherlands, the employee must have lived outside this radius for at least 16 months.

Maximum period

On the basis of this ruling, employees are eligible for a 30% tax-exempt allowance for a maximum period of 8 years. However, in case the employee has previously lived or worked in the Netherlands, the maximum period of 8 years will be reduced. This concerns periods of prior living and/or working in the Netherlands that ended within the last 25 years.

Seperate alllowance

In order to qualify for the 30% allowance ruling, employer and employee must agree on a separate allowance. This allowance must be paid to the employee together with his regular salary. In addition, employer and employee must specifically agree that, for tax purposes, the wage of the employee will be reduced to 70% and that the employee is in principle entitled to a net allowance of 30/70 of the reduced wage.

Four month period

Employer and employee must jointly apply for allowance within four months from the start of employment. In case they apply outside the four-month period, the ruling can only be granted as of the first day of the month following the month in which the application was made. As a result, the ruling cannot be granted for the full 8-year period. This is because the allowance will not be granted retroactively until the date of commencement of employment.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.

 

The right to privacy in the European Union

What ever happened to privacy? New technologies gather, store and share information as never before. And we ourselves happily take part in the gathering, storing and sharing of information. At the same time, we know how important privacy is to modern life and how endangered privacy has become.

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Exemption for gift taxes

Anyone in the Netherlands, can give someone a gift of € 100,000 free of tax. One of the conditions for this tax-free gift is that the receiver uses the money for the receiver’s own house; to buy one, to renovate one, or to pay off a portion of the mortgage of a house.

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Stalker banned from social media

On 4 December 2012, a court in Amsterdam made a unique ruling in preliminary relief proceedings. The court imposed a social media ban. The man in question was ordered to delete his hyves and Facebook profiles and his blog and may not take part in social networks for a period of one year.

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Cookie legislation: have you brought your website into line?

Under the Dutch Telecommunications Act (DTA), several new provisions have been made regarding cookies. Under the new rules, websites are required to ask visitors for their consent before setting a cookie (or other information) on their PC, laptop or mobile phone.

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