What are the rules and regulations concerning temporary workers in The Netherlands?

An employment agency (‘uitzendbureau’) often is a great (temporary) solution for students, graduates and others who are looking for a flexible job. Many of us have found our first job through an employment agency. These were perhaps low paying (holiday) jobs in the catering industry, or something similar to this. On the other hand, the fact that you could stop working for an employment agency at any certain point you wanted, was of course a big advantage, and probably the most important reason for people to join an employment agency in the first place. But how exactly does this all work.

In the blog we’ll discus how an employment agency operates, what the biggest advantages are for companies who are thinking or hiring temporary workers, and what the rules and regulations are for people who are being employed by an employment agency.

How does an employment agency operate?

Employment agencies, like Student Inhuren, usually have extensive lists of potential employees they can present to clients (hiring companies) who are looking to hire a specific type of employee. This way, employment agencies are often able to make the best possible match for clients. The client (‘inlener’) subsequently pays the employment agency a fee for this ‘matchmaking’ service, because, after all, this saves them a lot of time and energy.

After the client and the employment agency have agreed that a temporary worker (a ‘temp’) will start working for a specific (hiring) company, and for an (in) definite period of time, the temporary worker still remains employed by the employment agency, and not by the hiring company. This means that the employment agency remains the official employer of the ‘temp’ and only assigns (‘detacheert’) him or her (temporary) to a hiring company.

In return, the hiring company pays the employment agency a fee. This fee usually amounts for the actual salary the employment agency pays the ‘temp’ per hour, plus an additional fee for the matchmaking service that the employment agency provides. This means that, usually speaking, the hiring company pays more money for a temporary worker provided by an employment agency, than if they would hire an employee directly themselves. But this higher fee means that the hiring company is provided with a number of benefits by hiring a temporary worker. The biggest benefit, in this case, is the flexibility they get in return.

What are the main benefits for clients (‘opdrachtgevers’) that are thinking of hiring a temporary worker?

Hiring companies often prefer to have the (flexible) option to terminate a hiring-agreement whenever they like. This means the hiring company is flexible and consequently free to decide whenever they want to terminate the hiring agreement for an employee, which wouldn’t be the case if this company employs the employee directly.

Furthermore, the hiring company (client) doesn’t suffer the same risks when a temporary worker is sick or unable to work. When a temporary worker isn’t able to work – for whatever reason – the hiring company can easily decide to terminate the contract with the employment agency without any (major) consequences. They can also request the employment agency to send them another temp. This flexibility eliminates the risk of the hiring company having to pay for the period that the temporary worker is unable to work due to unforeseen circumstances, like illness.

The employment agency covers these kinds of (employer) risks for their clients, because the employment agency is the one responsible and has signed an official contract with the temporary worker. As discussed, the temporary worker, although working for another company, remains employed by the employment agency. The employment agency itself can eliminate some of these risks by offering the temp a specific ‘temporary employment contract’, instead of a regular employment contract.

Other benefits for clients looking to hire a temporary worker through Student Inhuren are, for instance that:

  • Student Inhuren can provide clients with temporary workers throughout the whole country (and even abroad);
  • In the case of an emergency, Student Inhuren is (usually) able to provide clients with a temporary worker within 24 hours;
  • Clients also have the option to take on the temporary worker permanently, which may be the case when clients (and temps) are satisfied with each other. This option is possible after the temporary worker has already worked for the employment agency for a certain number of hours. In the case of Student Inhuren, this number amounts to 1040 hours;
  • If a client is looking for a capable employee to fill up a permanent position within its company, it takes Student Inhuren about 3 days to provide the client with the best suitable match, which they do by introducing several candidates;
  • If the client is in need of a new employee from a specific region of town of its liking, Student Inhuren can also make this possible;
  • Hiring a temporary worker from Student Inhuren is 100% flexible, which means that clients only pay for the actual hours the temporary worker has worked. This also means that for the first 78 weeks, clients don’t have to worry about having to offer the temporary worker a permanent contract;
  • For the first 78 weeks, clients are free to terminate the agreement with Student Inhuren at any moment they want, which means that, during these 78 weeks, clients are not obligated to continue their collaboration with Student Inhuren;
  • Another huge advantage for clients looking to hire a temporary worker through Student Inhuren has to do with the costs they don’t have to pay themselves. For example, Student Inhuren takes away the Payroll administration costs, advertisement costs (that companies would have to pay themselves for finding suitable employees) and insurance costs (for instance when a temp can’t work due to illness, he or she can be replaced). Student Inhuren, being the official employer, is responsible for all of these costs;
  • Last but not least, for foreign companies located in The Netherlands there are no restrictions, permits or entry barricades they have to worry about when hiring temporary workers.

What does the ‘temporary employment contract’ between the employment agency and temporary worker entail?

The so called ‘temporary employment contract’ is often seen as a special version of the regular employment contract, as it contains some important specifics. One of the biggest differences is that a temporary employment contract is more flexible. For example, the temporary employment contract states that when a hiring company decides to terminate the contract with the employment agency, this automatically means that the contract between the temporary worker and the employment agency ends simultaneously. The law states that this applies for the first 26 weeks of the temporary employment contract and that this period can be extended until the maximum of one and a half years, due to the collective labour agreement (‘CAO’). This works vice versa: the temporary worker can decide to terminate the work-agreement at any time, without being bound to a termination notification period, which, for instance, would apply in other cases. However, these ‘temporary employment contracts’ will only apply to employment agencies (and their workers) that are bound to the ABU-collective labour agreement.

The ABU (‘Algemene Bond Uitzendingsondernemingen’) is a large branch organization for employment agencies. As soon as the hiring company decides to terminate the contract with a temp, he or she will be without a job. When the temporary worker becomes incapacitated (‘arbeidsongeschikt’), the contract will end immediately, according to the ABU-collective labour agreement. Generally speaking, the longer a temporary worker is employed, the more rights he or she will gain. It depends on the specific collective labour agreement, which applies to the temporary worker, how this is exactly arranged. In most cases, the labour agreement states that the temp will only be paid for the actual work he or she has done.

The other big branch organization is called the NBBU (‘Nederlandse Bond van Bemiddelings- en Uitzendondernemingen’), which applies employment agency Inhuren.com. is member of. If you’re a temporary worker, it’s essential to know which of these two collective labour agreements apply to you, because the ABU and NBBU both have their own specific rules for clients and/or temporary workers.

Is a ‘temp’ entitled to the same salary with regards to a temporary employment contract?

As we’ve discussed above, a temporary worker is not (by definition) entitled to the same rights as a regular worker who has been directly employed by a company, when it comes down to their job-security. But do the same rules and regulations apply with regards to an equal salary? Unfortunately, this is also not the case, due to certain deviations in the temporary employment contract in comparison to a ‘regular’ employment contract. Normally speaking, an employer is obliged to share any vacancy that has come available for an indefinite period of time (‘onbepaalde tijd’) with an employee that has a contract for an indefinite period of time. This, however, doesn’t apply to the employee employed on the basis of a temporary employment agreement.

Furthermore, a hiring company is allowed to treat temporary workers differently, while this distinction is not permitted between employees that have a contract for a definite or an indefinite period of time.The statements above might give the impression that clients are therefore allowed to pay (the employment agency) a lower hourly wage for the temporary workers compared to a ‘regular’ employee. This is not the case. With regards to salary and other (financial) compensations, companies, in principle, are not permitted to make a distinction between temporary workers and their regular employees.The only time this is permitted, is when the hiring company or the employment agency are bound to a collective labour agreement that states a different salary applies to the temporary worker.

Damages due to work accidents during a temporary employment agreement

Although formally speaking there is a strict separation between the client and the temporary worker, because of the employment agency standing ‘in between’ these 2 parties, this ‘separation’ does not apply with regards to work accidents (‘arbeidsongevallen’) in case the client has been negligent. This is an important exception to the rule that temporary workers, legally speaking, have little to nothing to do with the hiring company (the client).

When a temporary worker gets injured while doing his or her job for the client, and the cause of this injury lies with the client (due to neglecting the safety rules in the workplace, for example), then the temporary worker can hold the client legally accountable for this. Also, the employment agency, which after all is the official employer of the temp, can be held accountable for any damages of injuries that occur during the period of the temporary employment contract.

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Rafael Tis

06 27231017

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