Contracts in the Netherlands

Overview by

The Active Population in Figures

Main Indicators 2003 2004 2005 2006
Labor Force 8 283 000 8 211 000 8 231 000 8 383 000
Labor Force (Annual Growth, %) -0.43 -0.87 0.25 1.85
Rate of Activity (%) 64.2 63.3 63.2 64.5
Unemployment Rate (%) 5.4 6.5 6.5 5.5

Source: Office of Statistics of Netherlands.

Employed Persons, by Occupation (% of Total Labor Force) 2005
Agriculture and Fishery 1.4%
Mineralextraction 0.1%
Industry 12.0%
Public Services 0.4%
Construction Industry 5.3%
Commerce 16.5%
Hotel and Catering Industry 3.7%
Transport and Communication 6.1%
Financial Services 3.7%
Business Services 17.0%
Public management and Social Security 7.2%
Education 6.7%
Healthcare 16.0%
Culture and Recreation 4.0%

Source: Dutch Statistics Office


Management of Human Resources



Method of Recruitment
Usually an advertisement is placed in a paper or magazine. Aspiring candidates send their CV accompanied by a letter after which a number of candidates are selected for an interview. Recruitment by means of a headhunter and the internet are becoming more popular.
Recruitment Agencies

- Public Employment Offices
- Private Employment Agencies
- Labor Dispatch Business.

Recruitment Websites
The public employment office of the Dutch government
Digital recruitment ground for both employers and employees
A private recruitment agency
Sam Headhunting
Labor dispatch company
Labor dispatch company

The Contract

Type of Contract
Regulated by legal clauses and to a lesser degree by collective agreements and individual negotiations.The terms of employment contracts cannot be changed, the conditions for hiring and the limits for dismissal are rather rigid.
Breach of Contracts
  • Retirement
Normal resignation (once the employee becomes 65) or resignation by agreement or by the employee's request.
  • Dismissals
An employee can only be fired if the government agrees with the decision. Valid reasons for firing someone can be:

- That the employee is incapable of executing his tasks;

- a vexed relation between employer and employee;

- when the employee is ill too often;

- when the employee is incapacitated for work.

  • Other Possible Methods
Collective dismissals (possible for economic reasons)
Disciplinary dismissals
Labor Laws
Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

Dispute Settlement


Conciliation Process

Cases of Dispute
The employee was incapable (23%), the business is doing bad (21%), a vexed relation between employer and employee (17%), the employee is incapacitated for work (16%).
  • Legal Framework

Companies must notify local labor offices and trade unions before dismissing any worker. Only with agreement from the labor office (via a permit) may a firm dismiss workers. The head of the local labor office looks at the circumstances and decides whether to grant a permit.

An employer can appeal against a negative ruling by a labor office to a civil court. The criteria used by the labor office (and by the civil court on appeal) are based on recent court rulings and provisions of the Dutch civil code. A dismissal is usually considered unjustified if the consequences for the employee outweigh those for the employer, if no reason for the dismissal is given, or if the dismissal runs counter to current practice or agreement in that industry or company.

  • Procedure

Termination of employment in the Netherlands is governed by the Civil Code (CC), the Extraordinary Labor Relations Decree (ELRD), the Dismissal Decree (DD) and the Collective Redundancy (Notification) Act (CRNA).

In cases where the law remains silent, or where its regulations are not mandatory, collective labor agreements may also constitute a source of law. Some subsections of the CC stipulate that departure from the main principle is allowed, but only under a collective agreement or an arrangement made by or on behalf of a competent public body.

Additional information can be found the website of The international labour organization.


Judicial Structures

  • Legal Framework
Standard civil procedures
  • Competent Legal Body
Local labor officers, trade unions, labor court and civil court.

Social Partners

Social Dialogue and Involvement of Social Partners
The main trade unions are the FNV (Dutch trade union center) and the CNV (Christian trade union center).
Unionization Rate
28 %.
De Unie
List of all Dutch trade unions
Regulation Bodies
Ministry for Social Affairs & Employment
Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW)

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Hot Tips (1)
  • Trade Barriers in the Netherlands

    American firms register relatively few trade complaints against Dutch firms. The Dutch tendency to support a level playing field in trade matters and their depth of experience in trade positions them as the genuine "neutral" traders of Europe.

    U.S. Commercial Service Netherlands on 6 Jan 2010 related to Contracts in the Netherlands

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