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Unemployment benefits in the Netherlands

If you find yourself out of work but still living in the Netherlands, you may be entitled to receive unemployment benefits (WW). Expats and locals alike can receive the benefit whilst searching for new work.

How it works

The UWV (Employee Insurance Agency) system outlines that for the first two months, initial unemployment benefits are paid out at 75% of the average wage you’ve earned over the last 12 months (the current month not included), and 70% after two months, depending on your circumstances.

However, you should be aware that the unemployment benefit is not a welfare benefit and subsequently there is a minimum term of 3 months and a maximum term of 38 months. During this time you are inter alia required to look for work and show proof of application.

To be eligible for the unemployment benefit, you must meet various criteria, including the '26 out of 36 weeks' ruling criterion. This criterion states that you need to have worked for a minimum of 26 out of the 36 weeks before your first day of unemployment, and you must also not have reached the Dutch pension age and be able to work.

Applying for the unemployment benefit

Applications for the unemployment benefit can be done online at the UWV (in Dutch). You can apply for the unemployment benefit 1 week before you become unemployed and at the latest 1 week after you have become unemployed.

You will be required to fill in an application form and, as part of this application process, you must be able to provide:

  • Your BSN number
  • Last known date of employment
  • A DigiD code
  • A letter or contract of termination
  • Certified copies of salary slips
  • Original employment contract
  • Valid proof of identity e.g. passport or residence permit

The process takes up to four weeks and can be back paid to your first date of unemployment.

Other benefits available

The Dutch tax system provides several other income replacement schemes to compensate people for familial circumstance or loss of income:

  • Childcare benefit (Kinderopvangtoeslag) – A subsidy offered by the Dutch government to cover (part of) childcare costs (if your child attends a registered childcare organisation/centre).
  • Child benefit (Kindgebonden) - You will automatically receive the child benefit if your children are under the age of 18 and your annual income does not exceed a certain maximum (the income limitations vary based on the number of children in your household).
  • Children's allowance (Kinderbijslag) - Covers part of the costs for raising children and is dependent on the number of children, their age and whether they live at home or not.
  • General tax credit (Algemene heffingskorting) - All employees in the Netherlands (including expats) are entitled to the general tax credit, which is basically a credit on your taxation through your employer.
  • Rent benefit (Huurtoeslag) - Eligibility depends on age, rental price as well as household’s level of income and composition.

For more information, or to see if you are eligible for the aforementioned credits or benefits please visit the dedicated Belastingdienst website (in Dutch) or contact them by phone at 0800-0543.

If you have specific questions about employment law in the Netherlands, you can also contact ACCESS, a non-profit organisation aimed at informing and helping internationals.

IN Amsterdam Partners

For a list of all IN Amsterdam partners, including employment lawyers, click here.