Ten points to consider when contracting in foreign workers to the Netherlands

foreign workers

Many sectors are experiencing a large shortage of qualified workers. This is driving businesses to contract in foreign workers through a temporary staffing agency despite this being subject to a host of national and international rules and regulations. We have outlined ten points for you to consider when contracting in foreign workers.

1  Vetting the staffing agency

Temporary staffing agencies operating in the Netherlands are required to be listed in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. As the user company, you are under the statutory obligation to verify whether they are officially registered to provide agency workers. The Dutch Labour Inspectorate may fine you if you work with an unlisted staffing agency.

2  Does the staffing agency pay its workers adequately?

A temporary staffing agency is required to pay its workers the same wages as you pay your own staff who do the same work. This is referred to as ‘user company pay’. If your own staff are subject to a collective labour agreement, this agreement will – for the most part – apply to the agency workers as well. Agency workers may hold you directly liable if the staffing agency does not pay them adequately. For this reason, you need to make sure that you provide the relevant information to the staffing agency. Do not forget to document what information you have provided.

3  Do you pay part of the fee into a guarantee account?

If the temporary staffing agency does not fulfil its payroll tax and VAT liability to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, the user company may be held liable for this tax. This is referred to as sequential liability. To limit the risk of sequential liability, it is advisable to pay part of the fee you pay to the staffing agency into a guarantee account held by the agency. Subject to conditions, this may prevent you from being held fully or partially liable for any tax debts

4  It is legal for the agency workers to work in the Netherlands?

Agency workers who are nationals of an EEA country or Switzerland are free to work in the Netherlands. Agency workers from other countries must have a work permit issued by the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (Dutch acronym: UWV) to work in the Netherlands.

5  Does the staffing agency have an A1 statement?

An A1 statement is a document showing in which country social security contributions are due. If the staffing agency has a valid and complete A1 statement, you know that the social security contributions are rightfully paid in the worker’s country of residence. Without a valid A1 statement, you, in your capacity as the hiring company, run the risk of being held liable in the chain for any unpaid social security contributions. While these contributions can be clawed back for up to five years, the cost of doing so tends to be exorbitant.

6  Is the staffing agency certified?

Working with a temporary staffing agency that has a Labour Standards Foundation quality mark will limit some of the risk of being held liable for unpaid payroll tax and VAT. You may even be required under a collective labour agreement to do business with certified staffing agencies only. To check whether a staffing agency is certified by the Labour Standards Foundation, go to .

Please note: certification does not mean that you, in your capacity as the hirer, do not incur any risks at all. The Labour Standards Foundation checks for certain basic requirements, such as:

  • payment of minimum wage;
  • correctness of invoices;
  • payment of adequate payroll tax and VAT.

It does not check such aspects as hirer’s remuneration (see point 2 above), compliance with collective labour agreements, compliance with the Dutch Working Hours Act, etc.

7  Does your contract with the staffing agency address all relevant aspects?

A beard well lathered is half shaved. Make sure that your contractual agreements with the staffing agency are clear and appropriate. It is important, for instance, to point out to the agency that it has obligations with regard to such aspects as user company pay, A1 statements, worker housing, etc. You also need to make sure that you, in your capacity as the hirer’s remuneration, are indemnified against liability for any tax debts. If necessary, seek legal advice on the contract.

8  Has a report been submitted to Postedworkers.nl?

Foreign employers that temporarily post staff to a Dutch company are required to submit a report of this posting to www.postedworkers.nl. As a user company, you are expected to verify whether this report was effectively submitted. Our co-worker Sander Kant has written an interesting article about the duty to report international postings.

9  Do you provide a safe and healthy work environment?

Both the user company and the staffing agency are responsible for the health and safety of agency workers in the work environment. That said, this is the user company’s responsibility first of all. If an agency worker suffers an accident at work, the user company will be liable.

Before starting work, agency workers must be educated about their duties, the associated risks and the safety measures that have been taken. These aspects have been documented in the Risk Inventory & Evaluation (RI&E). The user company is required to forward the RI&E to the staffing agency, which, in turn, is responsible for educating its workers.

10  Monitoring developments in rules and regulations

Last but not least: do not forget to keep up with the news. The rules governing foreign agency workers change all the time. Dutch courts or the European Court of Justice also hand down high-profile rulings with a direct impact on the everyday situation on a regular basis. That is why you need to keep up with any developments and seek proper advice.

The rules and regulations governing contracting in foreign agency workers to the Netherlands are extensive and complex. Our interdisciplinary team of legal experts, tax specialists and compensation & benefits consultants can offer you comprehensive and robust advice on everything concerning foreign workers. To find out more, please contact them by sending an email to international@acconavm.nl.

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