Step-by-step plan to hire an expat

Expats are often highly educated hardworking people. It is therefore not surprising that many companies would like to have an expat on their team. But the process of hiring someone from abroad is a bit more complicated than with an EU candidate already living in the Netherlands. In this blog post we discuss a step-by-step plan that you can follow when hiring an expat.

1. Arrange a work permit if necessary

It is important to know whether the expat is an EEA employee, because an employer will usually have to apply for a work permit for an employee who comes from outside the EEA. Determine whether a work permit is required on the basis of the employee's identity document. There are different types of work permit in the Netherlands. If you are employing a candidate from abroad you need to apply for a TWV or a GVVA with UWV (Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency, against which the ‘UWV WERKbedrijf’ will examine the details of the candidate. If an employee from outside the EEA is employed without a work permit, this is considered illegal work.

2. Provide the housing

As an employer, you are then obliged to provide clean and safe housing for the foreign employee if the collective labor agreement that applies to your company dictates this. With regard to housing, the requirements of the relevant municipality must be met. There are various organizations that can help you arrange housing for expats, such as Hubbs and HBhousing.

3. Request the citizen service number (BSN)

You always need the BSN number of your employees, including employees from abroad. If the employee does not yet have a BSN number, the employee must request this himself from the Municipality where they are registered.

4. Draw up and sign an employment contract

Conclude an employment contract with the employee. The first question to be answered is to which entity the employee will be employed by. The questions then arise as to which right is applicable to the employment contract and where wage tax and social contributions will have to be paid. The basic principle with regard to wage tax and social security contributions is that the employee must be paid in the Netherlands if the employee lives and works in the Netherlands. This may be different when it comes to a temporary placement abroad.

Applicable law

Under European law, the parties may make a choice of law and thus choose which law applies to the employment contract. However, this choice must not, in simple terms, lead to the employee losing the mandatory protection of the right which had been applicable under the following main rule.

This is the main rule that the contract of employment is governed by the law of the country in which the contract is held. This also applies if the employee is temporarily employed in another country. If the employee does not usually perform the work in one country, the law of the country of residence of the employer who hired the employee applies. The only exception to this main rule is the situation in which “from the whole set of circumstances” it appears that the employment contract apparently has a closer connection with another country. In that case, the law of that country applies. This is called the expat clause, since the classic expat is the most common situation in practice where this exception may exist. For more information about this, you can read the ‘Basics of employment law for expats’.

5. Make written agreements about the terms and conditions of employment

A foreign employee is also entitled to matters such as the minimum wage, holiday allowance and the statutory number of vacation days. Also consider, for example, equal treatment legislation for men and women and the statutory Dutch requirements with regard to working conditions. It is also not uncommon to agree on a separate arrangement with foreign employees regarding the number of vacation days or the taking of (unpaid) leave. When expats want to be with friends and family, they usually have to travel far for this and therefore also need more free time.

In short, hiring expats does not work quite the same as hiring employees from the same country. So always follow above step-by-step plan. Are foreign employees currently employed? Then you can read here 5 tips to tie expats to your company.

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