top of page
  • Telegram
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • X
  • LinkedIn
  • Youtube

Temporary Work Guide

Updated: Jun 24

Man explaining temporary work in the Netherlands

Temporary employment through agencies has become a prevailing practice, as substantiated by compelling statistics. In the Netherlands alone, the year 2019 witnessed a staggering engagement of over 1 million individuals in temporary work its prevalence, underscoring and significance.

In this section, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know before commencing your journey in temporary agency work, bear in mind that regulations and protocols may differ from those in other countries where you may have previously worked.

We will guide you through the unique aspects of the Dutch system to ensure your seamless transition into temporary agency work. By equipping yourself with this knowledge, you will be to navigate the well-prepared intricacies and maximize the opportunities offered in the Netherlands.

The ABU Collective Labour Agreement

The ABU, as a prominent trade association, has implemented a Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) that establishes the employment conditions for temporary agency workers. This CAO applies to all parties involved, including the agency, candidates, and clients, and serves as a comprehensive framework that must be followed.

Before commencing your work, if you are not a Dutch national, you will be asked to read and sign the ABU Fair Employment Code for Labour Migrants and the ABU Fair Recruitment Charter for Labour Migrants. These documents ensure that your rights as a temporary employee are protected and that fair practices are upheld.

To further familiarize yourself with your rights as a temporary employee in the Netherlands, the ABU has created informative videos on their website. These resources provide valuable insights into the various aspects of temporary employment and can help you better understand your entitlements.

In addition to the ABU CAO, all applicable Dutch labor laws and regulations are followed. Certain aspects such as contract type, entitlement to pension accrual, and reservations are governed by the CAO, while other areas like parental leave and statutory sick pay are determined by Dutch law.

Work permit

The Netherlands maintains a favorable policy for citizens hailing from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. Individuals from these regions are not obligated to obtain a residence or work permit in order to seek employment within the country. Their unrestricted access to the Dutch job market facilitates their seamless integration.

For foreign nationals originating from outside the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, there are provisions in place to apply for a residence or work permit through the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Alternatively, they can opt for an Orientation year visa, which offers an opportunity for professional development and exploration within the Netherlands.

Regardless of nationality, if you are relocating to the Netherlands from abroad, it is imperative to register with your local town hall, known as the Gemeente. This registration process is mandatory and ensures that you are properly accounted for in your new place of residence. By adhering to this requirement, you contribute to the maintenance of accurate records and facilitate a smooth transition into your new community.

Temporary Contract

Temporary agency contracts in the Netherlands are categorized into three phases, determined by the duration of the employment relationship:

  1. Phase A: These contracts are limited to a maximum of 52 worked weeks and offer greater flexibility. Typically, the agency will only compensate you for the hours you actually work, unless specified otherwise.

  2. Phase B: Upon completion of a Phase A contract, if you continue working for the same company within six months, you will transition to a Phase B contract. These contracts can last for up to three years or encompass a maximum of six fixed-term secondment agreements within that time frame.

  3. Phase C: If you continue your employment with the same company within six months after concluding a Phase B contract, you will enter into a Phase C contract. These contracts are of indefinite duration and are typically based on a secondment agreement.

It's important to note that each phase brings different terms and conditions, and the specific provisions of your contract will depend on the agreement reached between you, the agency, and the client.


In the Netherlands, a BSN number (Burgerservicenummer) serves as a distinctive registration number assigned to every resident. This number plays a pivotal role in various aspects of life in the Netherlands, including employment. It is required to initiate employment, open a bank account, facilitate tax and social premium deductions, and access the Dutch healthcare system.

To obtain a BSN number, it is necessary to schedule an appointment at your local town hall, known as the Gemeente. During this appointment, you will provide the required documentation and undergo the necessary procedures to receive your BSN number. This unique identifier will serve as a key facilitator in your integration into Dutch society and will enable you to access essential services and benefits smoothly.


According to the ABU CAO, temporary agency employees are entitled to the same remuneration as their direct colleagues if they perform the same or similar job within the company. The compensation rights for temporary work include:

  • Periodic wage based on the applicable pay scale.

  • Reduction of working hours.

  • Overtime and irregular hour supplements, as well as supplements for working in physically or mentally demanding conditions.

  • Initial wage increases set by the company.

  • Expense allowances, including travel and working from home.

  • Increments based on performance or tenure.

  • Reimbursement for travel hours or travel time, if applicable.

  • One-off payments.

  • Working from home allowance.

  • Fixed end-of-year payment (as of January 1, 2023).

Since temporary work often involves varying hours from week to week, it is common to calculate the expected monthly salary as an hourly rate, excluding the 8.33% holiday allowance, which is reserved and paid out in June or upon termination of employment. Here's an example calculation based on an expected monthly salary of €3500 gross, assuming a 37.5-hour working week:

€3500 gross * 3 (months in 1 quarter) / 13 (weeks in 1 quarter) / 37.5 (expected working hours per week) = €22.22 gross (hourly pay rate)

€22.22 gross (hourly pay rate) x 37.5 (actual hours worked) = €833.25 gross per week

If you take unpaid leave or sick leave during a week, the amount you receive for that particular week will be lower than the normal amount, as it is proportional to the actual hours worked.

Filing your taxes

Filing your income tax return is an essential obligation in the Netherlands.

The Belastingdienst (Tax Authority) may send you a notification to complete your tax return but it is also your responsibility to submit it annually, without prompting. The filing window typically opens on March 1st, and you must ensure that your tax return is submitted before July 14th.

If you had multiple employers during the previous year, you will receive a Jaaropgaaf (Annual Income Statement) from each of them. These statements contain crucial information about your earnings and deductions, which you will need to accurately complete your tax return.

While you can file your tax return once you have received all the necessary Jaaropgaven, the process can be challenging due to the technical language involved. It is advisable to seek assistance from someone proficient in Dutch or consider hiring an accountant to handle the tax filing on your behalf. Ensuring accuracy and completeness in your tax return is crucial to avoid any potential issues or penalties.technical. You can of course also pay an accountant to do your tax return on your behalf.

Holidays and Short-term Leave

As a temporary employee, you have specific entitlements that include vacation days, public holidays, an 8.33% holiday allowance, and short-term absence leave. These provisions are in accordance with the ABU CAO.

Vacation Days: You are entitled to accumulate vacation days based on the number of hours worked. The specific calculation and accrual rate will be determined by the ABU CAO and the agreement between you, the agency, and the client.

Public Holidays: Temporary employees are eligible for time off on recognized public holidays. The number of public holidays and the conditions for eligibility will depend on the ABU CAO and the specific terms of your contract.

8.33% Holiday Allowance: In addition to your regular salary, you are entitled to receive an annual holiday allowance equivalent to 8.33% of your gross income. This amount is usually paid out in June or upon termination of employment.

Short-Term Absence Leave: The ABU CAO also covers short-term absence leave, allowing you to take time off for certain personal circumstances, such as illness or urgent family matters. The specific conditions and duration of this leave will be outlined in the ABU CAO.

Reservation for Hours Worked: For each hour worked, you will accumulate a reservation based on a pre-set percentage as outlined in the ABU CAO. This reservation is a provision set aside to cover various benefits and entitlements associated with your employment.

It is important to consult the ABU CAO and review your contract to understand the specific details of these entitlements, as they may vary depending on your circumstances and the nature of your temporary employment.

Income Tax

Prior to finalizing your contract, it is necessary to complete a tax form called

"Opgaaf gegevens voor de loonheffingen" for the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). By signing this form, you indicate your agreement to fulfill your income tax and social premium obligations in the Netherlands. These deductions will be automatically withheld from your salary during each payment period.

It is crucial to declare any additional forms of employment you may have in the Netherlands, as this information is required for the Belastingdienst to adjust your tax code. By providing comprehensive details about your employment status, you ensure that your tax obligations are properly accounted for and that you are in compliance with Dutch tax regulations.

Health Insurance

Living and working in the Netherlands necessitates having private Dutch health insurance for all residents. Fortunately, arranging this requirement is relatively straightforward, as health insurance companies are obligated to accept any individual who applies for coverage.

If you are a student and possess foreign or international health insurance, you may still be required to obtain Dutch health insurance for the hours you work and receive a salary. This ensures that you are adequately covered during your employment activities.

By adhering to the mandatory private Dutch health insurance regulations, you contribute to a comprehensive healthcare system that guarantees access to necessary medical services and treatments. It is essential to explore insurance options available to you and select a policy that aligns with your needs and circumstances.

Commuting allowance

In the Netherlands, it is common for companies to provide a commuting allowance to employees who live more than 10 kilometers away from their workplace. The specific amount of the allowance can be calculated based on the exact distance in kilometers from your home to work. However, some companies may cap the allowance at a maximum level, while others may offer 100% reimbursement if you choose to use public transport for your commute.

The commuting allowance you receive will be determined by the company you are working for, and they will provide you with detailed information about the exact criteria and calculations before you start working. The allowance is typically paid along with your regular salary, either on a monthly or periodic basis.

It's important to note that the specific terms and conditions of the commuting allowance may vary between companies. Therefore, it is advisable to review the information provided by your employer to understand the details and entitlements related to commuting allowances for your particular situation.


Once you have completed more than eight weeks of temporary work (previously 26 weeks before January 2022) and are aged 21 years or older, you will begin to accrue pension benefits automatically. This means that a portion of your earnings will be set aside for your retirement.

Initially, you will be enrolled in the Basis pension scheme, which will last for a maximum of 52 weeks.

If you continue working with the company beyond the Basis pension scheme period, you will automatically transition to the Plus pension scheme. In this scheme you and your employer will contribute to your pension fund. The specific contribution amounts and details of the Plus pension scheme will be communicated to you by your employer.

It's important to note that the pension schemes may be subject to additional terms and conditions outlined in the ABU CAO or other agreements. It is recommended to review the specific details provided by your employer and consult the relevant documentation for a comprehensive understanding of your pension entitlements and contributions.

Short-term Leave

In a Phase A contract, temporary employees have the opportunity to build up a reservation for short-term, unexpected leave. This reservation can be utilized to cover payment if you need to take time off during the workday for reasons such as visiting a doctor or attending to an emergency. The reservation acts as a form of compensation for the hours missed due to unforeseen circumstances.

On the other hand, if you are working under a Phase B contract, the agency typically pays for short-term leave at a rate of 100%. This means that if you need to take time off for a short period due to unforeseen circumstances, you will still receive your regular payment for that time.

It's important to review the specific terms and conditions outlined in your employment contract and the ABU CAO to understand the details and provisions related to short-term leave for your specific contract phase.

Sick Leave

When it comes to sickness during a Phase A contract, the first two days are considered "Waiting Days" or "Wachtdagen" as per the ABU Collective Labor Agreement (CAO). This means that you will not receive sick pay for those initial two days. Sick pay will only be provided starting from the third day of sickness. However, if you have a Phase B contract, you will not be paid for the first day of sickness.

The sick pay you receive is typically calculated as 70% of your "dagloon" or daily wage rate. The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) determines this rate based on your income from the previous year. In addition to the UWV payment, your employer will contribute an additional 20% of your daily wage rate, as specified in the ABU CAO. It's important to note that the process of receiving sick pay may take 2-5 weeks due to administrative procedures.

It's crucial to understand that being registered as sick during a Phase A contract will result in a contract break. Upon your return to work, a new contract will automatically commence without the need for you to sign a new agreement. However, it's essential to be aware that contract breaks can have implications for your prospects of obtaining a direct contract with the client company, as there are regulations in the Netherlands regarding the contract chain.

To fully comprehend the details and implications of sick pay and contract breaks, it is advisable to refer to the ABU CAO and consult with your employer for specific information related to your contract and circumstances. Understanding these intricacies can help you make informed decisions and ensure compliance with the applicable regulations.

Maternity Leave

If you have a Phase A or Phase B contract and you are expecting a child, you may be eligible for maternity leave benefits provided by the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). During your maternity leave, the UWV will provide you with a benefit instead of your regular salary. The maximum duration of maternity leave is 16 weeks, which can be extended to 20 weeks if you are expecting twins.

It's important to note that during your maternity leave, your temporary contract will generally continue, unless the assignment has reached its natural end due to the completion of the specific project or tasks (in the case of a Phase A contract). For Phase B contracts, the continuation of the contract depends on whether the end date of the contract has already passed.

It's advisable to consult with your employer and the relevant authorities, such as the UWV, to understand the specific details and procedures related to maternity leave benefits, as well as any implications for your employment contract. They can provide you with accurate and up-to-date information based on your individual circumstances and the applicable regulations.

Partner Leave

As an employee with a Phase A contract, you have the right to take up to five paid days of partner leave (geboorteverlof) when your partner gives birth. These five days can be taken immediately or spread out over a four-week period following the birth of your child. If you have sufficient reservations built up, you can use them to cover these days. If your reservations are not enough to cover the full five days, your employer is required to pay the difference so that you receive full payment.

In addition to the initial partner leave, you can also take additional partner leave within the first six months after the birth of your child. The duration of this leave is a maximum of five weeks, calculated based on the number of hours you work per week. The UWV will provide a Partner Birth Leave allowance, which is set at 70% of your day rate, with the maximum day rate determined by UWV regulations.

Furthermore, after your child is born, both parents have the option to take parental leave. Currently, the total amount of parental leave available is 26 times your contractual working hours. For example, if you work 40 hours per week, you would be entitled to 26 weeks of parental leave. It's important to note that parental leave is generally unpaid.

Starting in 2022, new rules came into effect that allow parents to take a maximum of nine weeks of paid parental leave. The payment will be based on 70% of your day rate, with a maximum payment amount determined by the UWV. Temporary employees are entitled to a parental leave allowance from the UWV during these nine weeks of paid leave. This paid leave must be used within the first year after your child's birth. The remaining 17 weeks of parental leave can be taken until your child reaches the age of eight and are unpaid.

It's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and requirements regarding partner leave and parental leave, as they may vary depending on individual circumstances and the applicable laws. Consult with your employer and the UWV for accurate and up-to-date information tailored to your situation.


bottom of page