Recruiting foreign personnel

Do you find it hard to recruit new staff in the Netherlands, perhaps due to the shortage of available workers, perhaps because the skill set you need is scarce? Recruiting personnel abroad may be an option for you. How does that work? Find out.

Recruiting staff abroad often takes more time and effort than recruiting inside the Netherlands. You need to observe certain rules and regulations. Find out how to go about recruiting foreign personnel. 

1. Start recruiting inside Europe

This is a requirement in most cases. Unless you are a recognised sponsor, you have to start recruiting foreign personnel inside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The Employee Insurance Agency UWV can help you find staff inside Europe (in Dutch). They collaborate with EURopean Employment Services (EURES), a European network of employment agencies.

You may only recruit staff outside the EEA or Switzerland if you fail to find a suitable candidate via this route. 

Recognised sponsor

It is easier to recruit foreign personnel if you are a recognised sponsor. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service IND will process your request faster and you will need to hand in fewer documents. You can apply for recognition as a sponsor both for employment and for research purposes.  

2. Compare countries

Where can you find the largest number of candidates to suit your job vacancy? Compare the size of the working population, language skills, and level of education for different countries. The motivation of foreign employees also plays a part. They may be more interested in the development potential in your company than in the salary. EURES gives information about the labour market inside Europe.  

3. Ensure a positive introduction

Your company may be wellknown in your own country. But is that also true abroad? Make a company video and present an attractive company profile on your website. Include a section on the Netherlands and Dutch culture, so job applicants can familiarise themselves. Or get customers and employees to share how great it is to work with and for your company.

4. Find out what the rules are

Employees from the EEA and Switzerland can work inside the Netherlands without a work permit. You usually need a work permit (a 'tewerkstellingsvergunning' or TWV) for employees from other countries who work for you up to 3 months. If you employ someone for longer than 3 months, you usually need a combined residence and work permit or GVVA. To find out which permits a candidate needs, consult the IND website.

Highly skilled migrants

Special rules apply to highly skilled migrants. A highly skilled migrant is someone who is hired by a company in the Netherlands on the basis of their unique expertise, for example technical or scientific.

Notification duty posted workers

Do you hire a temporary employee via an employment agency in the EEA or Switzerland? Or a self-employed professional from an EEA country or Switzerland? The agency, or the self-employed professional, has a duty to notify the Dutch online posted workers counter of their intention to post a worker, or to come and work in the Netherlands. You, as the client, have a duty to check that they have notified the online counter on time and with the right information. The Netherlands Labour Authority (Arbeidsinspectie) checks that the foreign employee works under safe, healthy, and fair circumstances. The notification obligation is part of Employment Conditions (Posted Workers in the European Union) Act (WagwEU).

Other rules

5. Language and qualifications

Draw up a clear and attractive job vacancy text and convince the candidate to apply. Make sure the translation of your Dutch vacancy text is correct. Spelling mistakes and a wrong choice of words make you come across as unprofessional. 

Be aware that some countries have a different educational system. A foreign diploma may not have the same value as a Dutch diploma. You can find more information on foreign diplomas and credentials and how to assess them on the Nuffic website.

6. Enlist help

  • Look around you. Do you know any companies that hire foreign personnel? Ask them how they went about it.
  • UWV can support you (in Dutch) when recruiting staff inside Europe. Or you can ask a EURES adviser for help. 
  • The website seasonalwork.nl has an online database (in Dutch) with European job seekers who want to do seasonal work in the agricultural sector.
  • There are temp agencies, secondment agencies, and recruitment bureaus that specialise in recruiting foreign personnel. 
  • Or visit international job websites and foreign newspapers or trade publications. 

7. Support the foreign employee

Tell the foreign candidate that you are willing to help them. For example, by helping them relocate, finding suitable accommodation, and arranging official matters when moving to the Netherlands. This Dutch werk.nl checklist lists the ways in which you can help your new employee. 

Change in relocation reimbursement

The 30% ruling for highly skilled migrants allows you to reimburse a percentage of the employee's salary tax-free for relocation purposes, among other things. The 30% ruling is being reduced as of 1 January 2024.

8. Changing labour conditions

Temporary workers and employees from other EU member states who are posted to the Netherlands by their foreign employer for a temporary assignment are entitled to extra labour conditions. The posted workers regulation of 1996 already provided for several labour conditions for these employees. This regulation has been expanded. The Implementatiewet herziene detacheringsrichtlijnen (Implementation of revised posting regulations Act, in Dutch) has broadened these workers' rights. The main additions are: 

  • There are rules for accommodation and additional compensations.
  • If a worker has been posted to the Netherlands for more than 12 months, additional labour conditions apply.

This means that neraly all the rules of the country the worker is posted to apply, except dismissal law and additional company pension schemes. Under certain circumstances, the 12 month period specified above can be extended to 18 months.  

The revision regulation aims to improve the balance between: 

  • Stimulating the free provision of services in the European Union (EU) and ensuring a level playing field for companies. 
  • Protecting the rights of posted workers by adopting the principle that equal work in the same place should entitle workers to the same rewards. 

To whom does this apply? 

These rules apply to:

  • foreign service providers
  • temp agencies
  • entrepreneurs who employ posted temporary workers

The Implementatiewet herziene detacheringsrichtlijn was enacted on 30 July 2020. 

Staff shortage? Watch these tips

Finding staff in a tight labour market can be a challenge. There are opportunities, say experts and business owners, such as recruiting via Open Hiring or finding foreign personnel. Learn from their experiences and tips.

9. Hiring staff

The next step after recruiting personnel is of course hiring them. Is this your first time? Then you must register as an employer with KVK and the Belastingdienst, among other things. Make sure you know what to do. For a general checklist on hiring personnel, read the article Employing staff in the Netherlands

Maybe hiring a payrolling agency is a good option for you. You recruit staff yourself, set a salary, and supervise your employee. All the administrative duties surrounding staff, such as wage payments, payroll taxes, and potential legal disputes, are handled by the payrolling company.