Stricter conditions for employing employees from abroad

 In Employment & employee representation

The Bill stipulating stricter conditions for work permits for employees from outside the EU has been adopted by the First Chamber and will be enacted on 1 January 2014 as the Foreign Nationals Employment Act (Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen); below: WAV.
It will be more difficult for employers to employ foreign nationals from outside the EU. Stricter demands will be posed for admission to the Dutch labour market because it is considered undesirable to admit employees from outside the EU now that there are so many jobseekers in the Netherlands itself. Some of the changes laid down in the WAV are discussed below.


Work permits will be granted for a period of one year only, instead of a maximum of three years. When the employment contract is renewed, a new permit must be applied for. This also means that the employer will first have to recruit within the EU before the permit can be renewed. Only when the foreign national from outside the EU has worked in the Netherlands for five years, he may work without a permit (now this period amounts to three years).

The new act also requires employers to pay foreign nationals from outside the EU in line with market conditions and at least the full-time minimum wages – this also applies for part-time employees. An employer who has been convicted for an employment-related offence, e.g. violation of the Working Conditions Act (Arbeidsomstandighedenwet), will not be granted – in principle – a work permit anymore.

if it should turn out that employers in a certain industry do not recruit enough employees from within the EU, the minister of Social Affairs may impose a ban on work permits for that particular industry. The public authority that grants the permits, the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen (UWV)), will check if an employer has actually tried to have the vacancy filled by an employee from within the EU. At present insufficient efforts to recruit employees within the EU may result in a work permit being refused; under the new Act the work permit will always be refused.

Exception for Turkish employees

On the basis of the stand-still provisions in the association treaty with Turkey, the restrictions under the WAV will not apply for Turkish nationals.

Highly skilled migrants

The restrictive admission policy will not apply for foreign nationals from outside the EU that may contribute to the Dutch knowledge economy. In 2005 regulations were enforced to make working in the Netherlands attractive for highly skilled migrants: a work permit would no longer be required. Immediately upon arrival, highly skilled migrants may participate in the labour market without any restrictions. They will be given a residence permit for a maximum of five years if they have an employment contract for five years or for an indefinite period of time. Moreover, it is quite easy for them to change jobs, provided they meet the salary criterion (€ 52,101 on an annual basis for persons of 30 years old and older). The annual salary standard will be replaced by a monthly standard. Part-time employment is subject to the same standard, this to prevent abuse being made of this rule by offering an employment contract for fewer hours than the employee actually works.

Researchers, teachers and employees of international groups

Finally, the Foreign Nationals Employment Act Decree (Besluit Uitvoering Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen) will also change as from 1 January 2014. The changes are meant to diminish the paperwork for employers. A work permit is no longer required for researchers and teachers from outside the EEA if they come to work in the Netherlands for fewer than three years. Work permits will no longer be required either for international groups that offer trainings to employees of their foreign daughter or sister companies. When establishing which categories of foreign nationals from outside the EU may be employed without work permits, there must be a balance between the wishes of the business sector and the risk of displacement in the Dutch labour market.

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