Benefits you could be claiming from your Dutch employer

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Congratulations on landing a job in the Netherlands — but your work isn’t over yet. As you negotiate your salary (or pay rise), you should be thinking beyond the euro value of your salary. Instead, consider negotiating a salary package brimming with benefits.

Employers in the Netherlands are surprisingly open when it comes to secundaire arbeidsvoorwaarden (“secondary benefits” or “fringe benefits”). Secundaire arbeidsvoorwaarden are benefits that you agree with your employer on top of your Dutch salary

Your fringe benefits could be anything from a company car or bicycle (how Dutch!) to discounts on your health insurance or the flexibility to work from home. Sound good? That’s what we think! 

Of course, not all employers are going to dish up these benefits on a silver platter for you to enjoy — first up, you need to know what you can claim, and how to negotiate it. The Dutch are great at negotiations and compromise, so we’ve got some handy tips for you to get the most out of your employer. 

7 fringe benefits you can get in the Netherlands

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a job that you would do for free, you’re probably at least partially in it for the money. That’s fine — but by making the most of your fringe benefits you can get the most out of your work life. 

How would you feel about a snazzy e-bike with all the bells and whistles? Or getting paid to complete a Master’s degree? What about a discount on the pricey Dutch health insurance? All these are possible when you make the most of your secundaire arbeidsvoorwaarden.

Good to know: fringe benefits are company and industry-specific, or can be dependent on your collective labor agreement. But, it’s always worth checking with your employer to see if you’re eligible!

So what can you get? Below are our top seven fringe benefits you can negotiate in the Netherlands.

1. Transport

Got an office? Unless you’re lucky enough to live next door, you may be shelling out some travel expenses. The average Dutchie travels 22.6 kilometres to get to their workplace and someone has to pay for it — why not the employer? 

While companies are generally not obliged to reimburse your travel expenses, you can negotiate this as a fringe benefit. Normally, this will be 19 cents per kilometre travelled if coming to work with your own transport — including by bike!. Or, you can negotiate to have your public transport subscription covered. 

On the other hand, if you’re committed to being as Dutch as possible you could also make your fringe benefit a trusty fiets — not an old rusty bike, but a snazzy bicycle included in your salary! The Nationale Fiets Projecten (National Bicycle Plan) lets employers purchase a bike of up to €749 every three years. Live too far from work to cycle in? Opt for an electric bike — then you can spend up to €1,000!

1. A “Thirteenth Month”

We’ve all wished for more hours in a day — but how about a thirteenth month in a year? In the Netherlands, that’s possible. Not as a bending of the time/space continuum, but a whole extra month of wages — um, yes, please. 

A dertiende maand (thirteenth month) is also known as the year-end bonus because it’s typically paid at the end of the year — just in time for Christmas. It’s not a “bonus” because it’s not dependent on whether your company performed well or not. Instead, it can be guaranteed as part of your contract. But, it’s important to note that it’s taxed differently to your normal salary, so your net amount may be different from a normal month. 

3. Education

A very wise philosopher once said “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Now, while Dr. Seuss may not have been talking about negotiating further education as a fringe benefit in your contract, he might as well have been.

Your learning doesn’t have to stop once you graduate. Instead, in the Netherlands, you can negotiate a budget or course to extend your skills with your employer. The company gets an even more qualified worker, and you get new skills (that you can use to negotiate for a pay-rise later) — that’s a win-win!

4. Flexibility

There are some days that you really just need to sit at home and work in your pajamas. Or, perhaps you work better in the evening — but coming in at 8:00 in the morning is a real drag. We all need a bit of flexibility in our lives now and then, and being chained to a desk during work hours isn’t doing anyone any good. 

Try negotiating flexible working time into your contract. For example, the freedom to work from home two days a week, or to log on to work at 10:00 instead of 8:00 AM. If you’re a parent, you’ll especially value a bit more freedom to pick up your child from school or shuffle them to an activity. 

5. Services and facilities in the office

You don’t need to negotiate for all of your secondary benefits. Some may just be built-in, like a killer office space. It’s not uncommon to see a ping-pong or foosball table in the Dutch workplace, or even a dartboard to blow off some steam (remember not to pin your boss’s face to the target though!) A relaxing massage from an in-house masseuse or massage chair may be just what you need after a long day. 

A very common benefit that many Dutch employers may offer is a free lunch (who says there’s no such thing!) Delicious sandwiches or even a freebie cafeteria with a delectable Dutch spread? Mmmmm. 

6. Health and fitness

A healthy employee is a happy employee — and a happy employee is a productive employee. Employers have a real incentive to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. You could benefit from a discount on your health insurance (which is mandatory in the Netherlands), or a free or discounted gym membership. You may even be able to convince your boss to pay for your membership to a sports team or club — score!

7. Relocation costs

You’ve found a Dutch job — but you’re in a completely different country. Moving to the Netherlands is expensive, whether you’re coming from Europe or overseas. So why should you have to foot that bill?

If you’ve got some bargaining power up your sleeve, ask for your new company to pay for your relocation costs. It’s common for companies to pay for you to ship all your new furniture over — or you may be able to make a case for receiving a furniture allowance after you make the move. Time to go shopping!

Other fringe benefits you can get in the Netherlands

These aren’t all the secondary benefits you can get in the Netherlands. You may also like to consider asking for: 

  • a company phone, tablet, or laptop
  • a bonus scheme, or stocks in the company
  • a pension scheme
  • holidays and sabbaticals
  • unlimited vacation days
  • day-care
  • options for unpaid leave
  • work clothing
  • discounts on your company’s products

How to negotiate “fringe-benefits” from your Dutch employer

Now that you know what you want, how do you ask for it? 

First up, you need to consider your fringe benefits and your salary as a whole package — does it accurately represent your worth? Are you asking for too much, too little, or is it just right? Secondary employment conditions aren’t always financially tangible, but they can have a huge impact on your job satisfaction and quality of life.  

When you think you’ve struck the right balance, it’s time to negotiate. Dutch HR representatives say that the key to negotiating is to be as clear as possible about your wishes straight away. The Dutch are direct, and you need to be as well. Clearly outline your expectations, and they’ll clearly outline what they think is possible. 

Why you should be negotiating fringe benefits when working in the Netherlands

It’s important to remember that secondary benefits are, as the name implies, secondary. If your potential or current employer isn’t offering an adequate financial reward, tell them that you expect good fringe benefits — benefits like flexible working hours are particularly good to negotiate with if the employer doesn’t have extra cash flow. That means while an employer may not have much wiggle room when it comes to salary, they may be able to make up for it with additional benefits. 

Even better, while you’ll need to pay tax on some secondary benefits (like a Thirteenth Month), other secondary benefits aren’t taxed at all. For example, meals, health insurance discounts (up to a maximum amount), stock plans, some travel benefits, and employee discounts. If you can work some of these into your offer, you may end up saving a few euros when tax time comes around.  

What secondary benefits appeal the most to you? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Samantha Dixon/DutchReview

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).

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