Answer ... The Dutch employment regime is relatively complicated. The general rules of the employment regime are set out in the Dutch Civil Code. Moreover, collective labour agreements can play an important role regarding matters such as minimum wages and maximum working hours.
Dutch law provides statutory safeguards for employees, such as the right to continued payment during sickness for up to two years and protection against dismissal. The unilateral dismissal of an employee generally requires the approval of the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency or the court.
Unlike regular employees, self-employed workers do not generally benefit from statutory protection. For this reason, fintech companies may choose to work with self-employed workers rather than hiring their own employees. However, the statutory safeguards cannot be avoided if a self-employed worker qualifies as a pseudo-employee.
In 2018, 12.3% of workers in the Netherlands were self-employed – an increase of 3.7% since 2008 (www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/dossier/dossier-zzp/hoofdcategorieen/is-elders-in-de-eu-het-aandeel-zzp-ers-zo-hoog-als-in-nederland-). This development has generated heated political and public discussion, resulting in the Balanced Labour Market Act, which will take effect on 1 January 2020. The act aims to reduce the differences between the costs and risks of regular employment compared to flexible employment.
The Dutch rules on prudent bonus policies and the cap on variable bonuses in the financial sector may also be relevant to fintech companies. These rules apply if the fintech company falls under the Dutch financial regulatory framework.
Answer ... The Netherlands is generally considered the perfect pan-European hub and is known for its lenient business immigration policy. Multiple immigration schemes have been developed to attract specialist talent from abroad.
Employees from the European Union need not obtain a residence permit and a working permit. Fintech employees from outside the European Union can apply for schemes such as the Dutch highly skilled migrant programme or the EU Blue Card, which combines a residence permit with a working permit. No working permit is required for the highly skilled migrant and his or her spouse.
These immigration schemes generally require an employment contract (of at least three months and one year respectively); therefore, they are not available for self-employed workers. Both schemes have a minimum salary requirement and the EU Blue Card requires a higher education degree. Moreover, the Dutch highly skilled migrant programme can only be used by employers that are recognised by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service.
Specialist talent from abroad (who have lived more than 150 kilometres from the Netherlands for at least the preceding 16 months) can also benefit from the 30% facility offered by the Dutch tax authorities. Under this facility, an employer can pay 30% of the salary of specialist talent from abroad on a tax-free basis. Given the relatively high income tax rates in the Netherlands (36.65%–51.75%, depending on income level), this facility is a welcome bonus for talent migrants.