Netherlands Country Profile - Working Practices

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Working hours

Under Dutch law you are allowed to work a maximum of nine hours a day and 45 hours a week. A quirk of the legislation stipulates that employees can only work a maximum of 2,080 hours a year, which equates to a 40 hour week. Dutch workers tend to follow a Monday to Friday week with the working day starting at 9am and finishing at 6pm. Workers are entitled to take two 15 minute breaks and a 90 minute lunch break. Many workers opt to work through their breaks and eat lunch at their desk so they can leave at 5pm. It is rare to see Dutch people working late into the night or at the weekend.


Holiday entitlement in the Netherlands is on a par with most European countries with workers being eligible to between 20 to 25 days holiday a year. The Dutch usually take most of their holidays off in the summer with July and August often being referred to as ‘dead months’ for businesses. All workers are entitled to holiday pay. Maternity and parental leave is protected under the Work and Care Act which aims to promote a work-life balance for parents. It is illegal to turn a woman down for a job just because she is pregnant. Employees are entitled to 16 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay, by law.

Public holidays

There are nine public holidays in the Netherlands. Although not national holidays, the two Second World War Remembrance Days are often marked by closing shops and businesses.

Public holiday dates


New Year’s Day: 1st January

Good Friday: 19th April

Easter Day: 21st April

Easter Monday: 22nd April

King’s Day: 27th April

Liberation Day: 5th May (holiday every 5 years; next in 2020)

Ascension Day: 30th May

Whit Monday: 10th June

Christmas Day: 25th December

St Stephens Day: 26th December

Visas and eligibility

EU citizens, with some exceptions, are permitted to travel to the Netherlands without additional documentation thanks to the freedom of movement within the European Union. Depending on your nationality, for stays of up to 90 days you will probably need a Schengen visa, unless you are just passing through, in which case you can apply for a transit visa in

your home country. If you want to stay longer than 90 days you need to apply for a ‘machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf' or an MVV. Different rules apply for people from different countries but to apply for a visa you can visit a Dutch mission (embassy) in the country where you live. Dutch people cannot apply for a visa on your behalf. Schengen visas and transit visas cost around €60 (£42) with child visas costing €35 (£24). For more information, visit website.


In the Netherlands the tax year runs from 1 January to 31 December. Citizens must file their tax return before 1 April for the previous year. Income tax is regulated by the Income Tax Law 2001 and comprises a basic pension and national insurance contributions. Income tax rates are famously high in the Netherlands, with those earning over €57,585 (£40,682) paying up to 52% in tax. If you are moving to the Netherlands to work in a highly skilled area you may be eligible for the 30% Tax Facility, also known as the 30% Ruling, which allows employers to compensate expat workers for the cost of moving to the country. You need to have permission from the Tax and Customs Administration to apply. If you are eligible, you may also apply for non-resident taxpayer status which can have additional advantages. One of these being that non-EU expats can receive a Dutch driving licence without the need to retake their test.


Pensions in the Netherlands are known as the ‘Three Pillars’ comprised of a basic pension residents receive when they are 65 (likely to rise to 67 by 2023), a labour-based pension which is negotiated with an employer, and an annuity, where individuals contribute to an insurance plan which are often used as a tax break. The Dutch principle for pensions is that the amount should be close to a worker’s final salary. In 2014 the basic pension (Algemene Ouderdomswet, AOW), contributions were 17.9% of the gross salary. The amount of pension you receive will depend on your earnings and your final salary. Your final figure may be reduced if you move out of the Netherlands and return later.


The Dutch social security system is accessible to expats, with unemployment and incapacity support among the benefits that can be claimed depending on individual circumstances. The law states that unemployment benefits are paid at 75% of your last wage. After two months out of work this is reduced to 70%. To be eligible for unemployment benefit you need to have worked a minimum of 26 out of 36 weeks before you apply for support. Other benefits include childcare, tax credits and rent allowance, depending on income and value of property. Visit the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment website for more details.


The rights of disabled people in the Netherlands is enshrined in the Dutch Constitution. Since 2003, the Act on Equal Treatment of Disabled and Chronically Ill People, employers have been legally bound to make suitable adaptations to help disabled workers. The Dutch care system provides broad support for disabled people, including those suffering from mental and psychological problems, through its laws and care facilities across the country.

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