To make sure you haven’t missed a thing during the summer holidays, we’ve provided an overview of the main changes below, as well as some upcoming reforms that you might already want to start preparing for. Browse this introduction and the headings below for a quick overview of what’s new, or read on if you want to learn more.
At the start of the summer break, on July 5, 2022, the Dutch Minister for Social Affairs and Employment published a letter outlining the Dutch cabinet’s plan to reform and secure the labor market. On the same day, the Dutch House of Representatives voted in favor of the Work Wherever You Want Act, which strengthens the position of employees when they choose to work from home or on company premises.
Since August 1, 2022, employers are required to comply with the law implementing the European directive on transparent and predictable conditions of employment, which imposes certain changes to (model) employment contracts in the Netherlands. Additionally, on August 2, 2022, Dutch paid parental leave increased to nine weeks.
1. Upcoming changes in the Dutch job market you might want to prepare for
The plan of the Council of Ministers, as published on July 5, is accompanied by major changes in the structure of the labor market and is structured in five themes, the most significant of which are described below. Although many of these proposals have not yet been fully worked out, it can be said that the structure of the labor market will undergo significant changes in the near future. The Council of Ministers intends to decide how to implement these themes by early 2023 at the latest.
- Encourage the establishment of long-term employment relationships, for example by eliminating on-call contracts and removing the gap period between consecutive employment contracts
In relation to this theme, the Cabinet is working on reforms which will concern flexible employment contracts, for example to abolish on-call employment contracts in their current form. This means that zero-hour contracts and min-max contracts will no longer be allowed in the future. They will be replaced by a “basic contract”, the details of which remain to be defined.
It is also planned to abolish the interruption period which prevents consecutive fixed-term employment contracts from turning into an open-ended employment contract. All previous work counts in determining whether a permanent employment contract is in place.
The Cabinet is considering establishing an accessible form of dispute resolution, which vulnerable workers can use to ensure better enforcement of labor rights. This body (a labor court) could be similar to the Dutch Rents Court (a body that gives expert advice, mediates and/or settles disputes between tenant and landlord) in terms of structure and working methods. The decision-making process to establish the labor court will take place this fall.
Finally, an unemployment benefit for part-time employees is being drawn up and the Cabinet plans to improve the sickness benefit system by reintegrating the employee with another employer during the second year, if the employee is unable to perform his own work. .
- Clarify the rules for assessing the existence of an employment relationship with the self-employed and the method of enforcement (i.e. the Dutch tax authorities can start collecting contributions and fines again no later than late January 1, 2025)
The Cabinet underlined the need for greater equality in the treatment of workers, whatever the form of the contract. This problem is approached in various ways. First, disability insurance for the self-employed must be created. In addition, there are plans to change tax-related issues, such as the limitation of the self-employed deduction.
Whether a person works as an employee or as a freelancer should also be easier to identify under the Cabinet plan. It is mainly a matter of clarifying the relationship of authority (hierarchy).
This is expected to lead to a further narrowing of the gray area between employees and the self-employed.
It is also planned to introduce a legal presumption, which means that it will be up to the employer (and no longer the worker) to provide proof that there is no employment relationship.
Finally, efforts will be made in the coming period to restore compliance with the rules surrounding work and the evaluation of labor relations. This will mean, among other things, that the monitoring and enforcement of pseudo-self-employment will be intensified, with the current enforcement moratorium by the Dutch tax authorities being abolished by 1 January 2025 at the latest.
- Work and Income (Work Capacity) Amendment (WIA).
The cabinet also intends to start considering possible amendments to the Labor and Income Act (WIA) with particular emphasis on the practicality, affordability and ease of explanation of the system. At the end of the summer, the Dutch House of Representatives will be informed by letter of the progress of this process.
2. Work wherever you want
The Dutch Senate is likely to pass a measure that will strengthen the position of the employee to make a choice between working from home or from the workplace. A Senate committee is scheduled to hold a preliminary inquiry on September 27, 2022.
With the proposed change, an employer should in principle grant a request for a change of workplace, if the desired workplace is (1) located within the territory of the European Union, and (2) the home address of the employee, or (3) a workplace suitable for the job from which work for the employer is customarily performed (e.g., company site(s), flexible work locations used by the employer), unless the employer has an interest that outweighs the wishes of the employee on a standard of reasonable and fair basis. Factors that come into play here include the preservation of social cohesion in the workplace, if working outside the place of business represents a particularly heavy burden for the employer compared to working from home or at another workplace.
Under the new legislation, employees will be required to request a change of workplace two months before the planned effective date, and the employer will have one month before the planned effective date to render its decision in writing. If the employer does not respond within this time, the application is considered approved.
3. Statutory changes to Dutch model employment contracts
Since August 1, 2022, Dutch employers must comply with the law implementing the European directive on transparent and predictable conditions of employment. Please see our full alert on this subject here. Below we have provided you with some highlights.
The new law aims to improve the working conditions of employees by promoting more transparent and predictable working conditions while ensuring adaptability in the labor market. To achieve this, employers are now subject to a number of new obligations. These may require the revision of model employment contracts.
The main changes are:
- Ancillary labor clauses (in which an employee is prohibited from working for others without permission) are void unless the clause can be justified by an objective reason.
- Expansion of the employers’ obligation to inform employees of the conditions of employment in the employment contract – these include the right to vacation, the length and conditions of the probationary period, salary elements, applicable types of social insurance, usual place of work, training and procedures in case of dismissal, etc.
- (Un)predictable work patterns: Employees with unpredictable work patterns (for example, those employed on a zero-hours basis) have the right to refuse work if the employer does not give them at least least four days before the start of work. to be carried out, and the possibility for these employees to seek employment with more predictable and secure terms of employment.
- Free training: The employer must provide free training if it is mandatory under the law or a collective agreement.
4. Paid parental leave in the Netherlands increased to nine weeks
As of August 2, 2022, Dutch paid parental leave has increased to nine weeks. Parents can take up to 26 weeks of leave in total. The amount of paid parental leave will be 70% of the employee’s daily wage during parental leave, up to 70% of the maximum daily wage. The Dutch Employees Insurance Agency (in Dutch: UWV) pays this benefit to the employer. Employers are not obligated to top it up to 100% of the employee’s daily wage during the leave, unless agreed to in a collective or individual agreement or required by company policy. The parents will have to use the nine weeks of paid leave during the first year following the birth of the child. They can use the remaining 17 weeks as they wish, up to the child’s eighth birthday; this leave is unpaid, unless there is a different collective agreement or under company policy.