Working in the Netherlands?

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Working in the Netherlands

Our guide to working in the Netherlands includes a general economic overview, information on the job search, labor laws, the social security system, and business etiquette. We have all the info you need for your assignment abroad. Welcome to the Netherlands and its thriving business world!
The Netherlands is one of the biggest exporters of agricultural products in Europe.

At a Glance:

  • Thousands of new jobs have been created in the Netherlands due to huge foreign investment, particularly in services and trade.
  • A good level of Dutch and fluency in English is essential when looking for a job.
  • Employees in financial services and the chemical industry tend to have the best salaries.
  • The national insurance system offers basic services and is available to all residents of the Netherlands.
  • Punctuality is greatly appreciated in business dealings.


The most important economic sector in the Netherlands is agriculture. In fact, the country is one of the most significant exporters of agricultural products. Germany and the UK in particular purchase fresh produce from the Netherlands on a regular basis. Other areas, such as the automobile industry and sustainable energy, are gaining considerable importance as well.

In July 2017, the unemployment rate in the Netherlands was 4.8%. You will, however, find that there are huge regional differences for employees working in the Netherlands. During 2017, there was a 40% increase in the number of vacancies in Zeeland. However, while Utrecht and Zeeland are known for their high employment rate, Flevoland has the highest number of people without a job.

If you are interested in starting a job in the Netherlands, you should also be aware of some legal issues: EU/EEA citizens, for instance, don’t require a work permit. People of other nationalities, however, will need one before they can start working in the Netherlands.

Finding a Job: Ask for Help or Look in the Newspapers

In recent years, new jobs have been created in different economic sectors all over the Netherlands, such as logistics, services and trade, or information and telecommunication. Huge foreign investment in the Netherlands by over 300 companies such as Tesla and easyJet has created thousands of jobs since 2015. You might also want to brush up your Dutch if you consider working in the Netherlands. Fluency in English is indispensable, too.

The Dutch Labor Administration (UWV Werkbedrijf) can help you find a job if you are an EU/EEA citizen interested in working in the Netherlands. To sign up, you need to provide proof of your EU citizenship and your income tax number.

European employment services and private employment agencies are another alternative. There is a difference between Uitzendbureaus and Bemiddelingsbureaus, thoughThe former do not only search staff for their clients, they also function as employers themselves. The latter merely refer employees to companies. Alternatively, you can check local newspapers such as De TelegraafDe Volkskrant, or Algemeen Dagblad (AD).

Dutch Salaries

Your salary for working in the Netherlands will vary depending on your sector of employment. The highest salaries can be found in financial services, chemicals, and law. However, if you should be employed in the Netherlands’ textile industry or agriculture, chances are you will be earning a lot less.

A law on the minimum wage for working in the Netherlands regulates the income of employees aged between 23 and 65. The legal minimum wage is adjusted every six months. In January 2017, the minimum wage for people over 23 working in the Netherlands was 1,551.60 EUR (gross income per month).

Working Hours and Vacation Days

The Dutch labor law establishes the framework for all aspects of working in the Netherlands. General requirements and conditions are laid out as follows:

  • The maximum number of working hours should not exceed 12 hours per day and 60 hours per week.
  • Nightshifts should not exceed 10 hours.
  • After five hours, employees are entitled to a break.

Most employees are granted between 20 and 25 days of vacation per year. This is more than labor law specifies. Vacation days have to be four times the number of weekly work days. Thus, five work days per week would result in 20 days of vacation per year.

The Commission for Equality of Treatment was appointed to assure equal rights for all people working in the Netherlands. In this way, nobody should be discriminated against when it comes to reviewing applications, salaries, or promotions of employees.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum. 

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