Working Conditions in The Netherlands

1. Minimum Working Conditions

The Working Conditions Act contains the most general provisions and requirements regarding working conditions and stipulates that an employer and employee are jointly liable in supporting health, safety and wellness in the work place. The employer has to set up a working conditions policy within the company.

2. Salary

In principle, employer and employee are free to agree to the wages to which an employee shall be entitled. However, the Act on Minimum Wages and Minimum Holiday Allowances contains certain minimum wages and minimum holiday allowances, which are normally adjusted each year. A Collective Labour Agreement, if applicable, may also contain salary scales that are binding on individual employees.

3. Maximum Working Week

The legislation on working hours and working conditions is based on the Working Hours Act. The amount of working hours depends upon the sector of industry and the kind of labour performed. In general, an employee is only allowed to work a maximum of 12 hours per day, for a maximum of 60 hours per week. The Working Hours Decree provides exceptions and additions for certain industries (inter alia the care sector).

4. Overtime

There is no specific Dutch legislation on compensation for working overtime. Whether overtime will have to be compensated, should follow from what was agreed in the employment contract, employee handbook or – if applicable – Collective Labour Agreement. If neither of those state that overtime will be compensated, it is still possible that the employer is obliged to do so. It can be ruled that the employer should compensate an employee for working overtime, because this is what may be expected from a “good employer” in the same circumstances.

5. Holidays

Employees are entitled to a statutory minimum number of vacation days equivalent to four times the weekly working hours. In other words, an employee with a full-time workweek of 40 hours is statutorily entitled to a minimum of 20 vacation days per year.

In addition to vacation days, employees are entitled to a holiday allowance. In general, the holiday allowance equals 8% of the annual salary, insofar as the annual salary does not exceed three times the annual equivalent of the minimum wage.

6. Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace

The employer is obliged to provide a healthy and safe work environment for its employees. Employers are obliged to make a Risk Inventory and Evaluation, which mentions all the risks in the working environment, and the preventive measures that are taken or will be taken to increase those risks.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Netherlands, please contact Christiaan Oberman, Partner at Palthe Oberman ( at
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