Stricter rules on foreign workers from Europe

The government has tightened up the rules on foreign workers from Europe because a growing number of foreign nationals are coming to live and work in the Netherlands.

Agreements on the influx of foreign workers

The government has made agreements with the municipalities on the consequences of the influx of foreign workers. The agreements concern better registration, the prevention of exploitation, improved housing and the repatriation of unemployed foreign nationals to their country of origin. The main measures are as follows:

  • Foreign nationals who cannot provide for themselves may not stay in the Netherlands. Stricter checks will be conducted and the rules have been tightened up.
  • The government will take measures to improve compliance with registration requirements, for example by reminding employers of their duty to register foreign workers.
  • The government will encourage housing associations and municipalities to reach agreement on the provision of housing for foreign workers, for example by building basic accommodation units.
  • The government will improve the public information provided on the rights and obligations of foreign workers and consider how existing information can be used more effectively. It will do so in cooperation with municipalities, employer and employee organisations, migrant organisations and authorities in the countries of origin.

The government will also take firmer measures against existing problems, including exploitation. The main measures are as follows:

  • The SZW Inspectorate will fine employers who make excessive salary deductions for such items as accommodation or transport.
  • Foreign nationals will qualify for social assistance and social shelter services only once the Immigration and Naturalisation Service has established that they are legally resident in the Netherlands.
  • Foreign workers who do not speak Dutch must successfully complete a course in Dutch before applying for social assistance. If they do not, the UWV will refuse or lower the assistance.
  • As of 1 July 2013, foreign nationals working temporarily in high-risk jobs, such as crane operators and asbestos removers, are also required to speak Dutch. A command of Dutch improves safety at work and helps prevent serious accidents. The work and responsibilities will determine how good the worker’s command of Dutch must be. The SZW Inspectorate checks compliance with this requirement. If it is not satisfied, it can fine the employer and the employee.

The government and the municipalities are monitoring the impact of the measures, for example on the quality of accommodation.