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Work in the Netherlands

Types of companies in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands there is a broad variety of companies, very much like other developed economies. Big multinationals, mid-sized companies, small businesses and freelance entrepreneurs are all contributing to the total number of companies. Most parts of the  Dutch economy are made up of  medium and small sized companies. Furthermore,  the amount of freelancers is rising quickly, due to platformisation of some jobs. For example, delivery services like Deliveroo, UberEats, and Thuisbezorgd. Many employees used to do all the work, while freelancers take up these jobs now.

Work culture in the Netherlands
When working for a Dutch employer, you are generally expected to take over the Dutch work ethics. Being on time, holding your end of a deal, and keeping your promises mean a lot to your employer and coworkers. On the other hand, if you are late often or do not show up for appointments you will be quickly fired. Besides that, directness is a big factor, if you have something to say, say it! Directness will be appreciated, and again on the flipside, if you do not speak your mind you will be generally considered insincere. Furthermore, using a lot of words to say something that could be said using much less words is considered impractical, especially on the workfloor.

If you work in the Netherlands, the employer you work for pays your taxes for you. So, when you receive your salary, your employer actually makes two payments. One is to you, which is yours to keep, and the other is directly to the Dutch tax service. The percentage of taxes you pay over your salary is getting progressively higher. If you make a small  wage you will only be taxed a few percent. If you make more money,  the percentage of taxes will progressively increase. However, for students, who will mostly be working a part-time job, the taxes will generally remain a few percent. A special mention that has to be made is regarding ‘loonheffingskorting’. Loosely translated into English this means ‘wage tax reduction’. Every person that is working is entitled to a certain deduction on the amount of taxes they have to pay. You declare to your employer when you begin working if you want the deduction applied or not. It is advised that if you work at multiple employers at the same time, so when you have multiple sources of income/tax at the same time, that you apply the loonheffingskorting at the job you make most money at. Subsequently, you do not apply it at your second, or even third job. That way, you will not pay too little tax and you will not come into debt with the Dutch tax service. Every person has to pay exactly what they are  due to the tax service. So if you overpaid you are eligible for a tax-return. Starting march 1st of the following year you can file for a tax return over the current year.

Social Security
Due to the relatively high taxes, there is also high social security in the Netherlands. If you have worked for a while you build up unemployment benefits at the Dutch government, when you lose your job you can request those benefits and use them to compensate for your lost wages.

EU or Non-EU
As an international student there is the factor of your nationality. If you come from inside the EU you can work just as a Dutch person. However, if you are from outside of the EU, there are some complicating factors, especially regarding work. The Dutch government’s standpoint is that if you come here for your studies, you do not come here to work. That is why there are some restrictions in place that make it harder for non-EU students to get a job. Generally, an international student from outside the EU will have a student visa. This comes with a residency permit card which allows your stay in the Netherlands. On this card you can check what restrictions are in place for you specifically. Generally for students there is the mention of ‘TWV vereist’ which means ‘workpermit needed’. When this is mentioned on your residency permit card, your employer will have to file a work permit for you. This is a permit that allows your employer to employ you up to 16 hours per week (Monday-Sunday). Without this permit it is illegal to work!

Health insurance and allowance
The Dutch laws and legislation rule that everyone who is 18 years or older and living in the Netherlands needs a basic Dutch health insurance. As long as you do not work you will be exempted from needing a health insurance. However, once you start working you will need it in the foreseeable future. The insurance needs to be a policy by a Dutch insurance company. For example with ‘Zilveren Kruis’ or ‘de Friesland’. AON-insurance doesn’t give enough coverage to count as a sufficient insurance, so keep an eye on that! To be able to both work and abide by the law, the best way to treat this manner is to always keep your address up to date at the municipality. By doing this the letters from CAK (the Dutch government institution checking up on foreigners and their healthcare situation) will reach out to you. When you get this letter it is time for you to take insurance. After receiving this letter, it is also possible to take health allowance/benefits. When you take the cheapest insurance, the benefits are going to be higher, so you can technically make money on being insured!

Finding vacancies, online/offline application processes
When looking for a job there are multiple options. Most vacancies are listed online, on websites like ‘Indeed’, ‘’ and ‘LinkedIn’, or many others. When you find a job that suits you, you upload your CV and motivation letter and generally hope for the best. Finding an offline vacancy can be harder, and might literally require knocking on some doors. However, when finding a job ‘offline’ you can immediately present yourself as a person, rather than a CV on a screen, which is an obvious bonus. Application processes differ from company to company, but a general rule of thumb is that the size of the company is most important. Small companies hire and fire people more easily, whereas bigger companies hire less, with long application processes, but once you are hired, you are not as easily fired.

Employment agencies & Recruit a Student
What an employment agency does, is on the one hand reaching out to people looking for a job; and on the other hand reaching out to companies looking for personnel, and bringing those two in contact. How it works legally is that personnel is contracted by the agency and thus the agency pays the salaries. When somebody works at one of the contracted companies, the agency sends them a bill for the work that you have done.

Recruit a Student is an employment agency focused on International Students. Recruit a Student hires people for parttime, flexible positions for a wide variety of companies. All suited for non-Dutch speakers. Recruit a Student works with WhatsApp group chats, if you are signed in with Recruit a Student you will be put in the group chats and see all job offers. When you are available for a job offer and interested in it, you can respond. If you are not available or not interested you simply do not respond. This means you can work when you have the time and not when you have to study for tests, when you have other obligations, or when you are going abroad.

If you are interested in Recruit a Student or want to know more, use this link.