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Doing business in the Netherlands: Staff welfare

21 March 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 30 March 2012

In the Netherlands, government rules on staff welfare can be found in the Working Conditions Act, the Working Conditions Decree, the government's Health and Safety Regulations and also its Guidelines on Working Conditions, including standards.


Legal requirements

Working Conditions Act

Working Conditions Decree

Guidelines on working conditions

Employing people places extra demands on you and your business practices. A personnel policy is therefore necessary to cater for things like evaluation and operational discussions, pay and health-related absenteeism, etc. You will have to plan for training and ensure that workers are given decent working conditions and a voice within the company.

The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) promotes decent working conditions and health and safety in the workplace.

Employment conditions

Social rules

Non-discrimination, equal treatment and gender equality 

Businesses are not allowed to discriminate against personnel on the grounds of race, age or gender. The rules on non-discrimination are contained in, for example, the Equal Treatment Act, the Equal Treatment in Employment (Age Discrimination) Act and the Equal Treatment (Men and Women) Act.

Equal Treatment Act

Equal Treatment in Employment (Age Discrimination) Act

Equal Treatment (Men and Women) Act

Health and safety at work

It is up to you and your colleagues to determine how to achieve the safety targets defined by the government. You need to record discussions you have on the issue in a Health and Safety Catalogue. This may be valid either for a single business or an entire sector.

For example, the catalogue will contain measures for safer working, NEN standards, best practices, your own standards and guidelines, manuals, and safety techniques.

Safety at work

Health and Safety Policy for employers

Labour law

Rules on labour law are set out, for example, in the Disablement Benefits Act, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Collective Agreements Act and Volume 7 of the Dutch Civil Code.

Disablement Benefits Act

Code of Civil Procedure

Collective Agreements Act

Dutch Civil Code, Volume 7

Law applicable to contractual obligations

Volume 7 of the Dutch Civil Code contains rules on contracts of employment.

Dutch Civil Code: labour agreements


Labour disputes should be divided up into:

  • individual disputes: involving differences between you and an employee, e.g. about pay or transfers;
  • collective disputes: involving differences between you and the works council, or between an employers' association and a trade union;
  • other disputes: involving issues like discrimination, sexual harassment and 'whistleblowing'.

There are various methods for resolving disputes, e.g. mediation, the intervention of an industrial committee, or legal action.

Mandatory social rules complete the requirements related to managing staff.

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum social legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Social insurance

Employers must insure their personnel to ensure they receive temporary allowances if they become ill, unfit for work or unemployed. Personnel are also insured for leave in the event of pregnancy or adoption. These types of employee insurance are administered by the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), which pays insurance premiums over to the Tax Authority.

UWV employee insurance


You can find information on corporate social responsibility here:

CSR Netherlands

Information from the Dutch government can be found on the website, which lists at a glance all the various relevant dos and don'ts, e.g. licences and requirements, laws and regulations, taxes and subsidies.

Government information for entrepreneurs employing personnel

Source: European Commission

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