Top public and semi-public sector incomes

Public and semi-public sector senior officials may not earn more than a minister. This is known as top income standardisation.

Top income standardisation

From 1 January 2015, senior government officials’ salaries cannot exceed those of government ministers. This is laid down in the Public and Semi-public Sector Senior Officials (Standard Remuneration) Act (WNT). This Act also applies to the salaries of senior officials of organisations in the semi-public sector, such as hospitals, schools and public broadcasters.

The maximum salary for senior officials in 2017 is € 181.000. This includes:

  • holiday allowance;
  • end-of-year allowance;
  • pension contributions;
  • expenses.

The Act also applies to institutions that get a lot of their income from government grants. Key regulations laid down in the WNT are as follows:

  • A senior official’s salary may not exceed that of a government minister. The exact amount is set each year in the general WNT standard.
  • Healthcare insurers are not subject to the WNT standard, but to a separate sectoral standard.
  • Separate arrangements exist for care institutions, educational institutions, cultural funds and housing associations.
  • There is also a standard which applies to senior officials’ redundancy payments. This amounts to one year’s salary at most, up to a maximum of €75,000.
  • Bonuses, profit sharing and other forms of variable remuneration are not permitted.

Disclosure of top incomes

Public and semi-public institutions must publish information in their annual financial reports on remuneration and redundancy payments paid to officials. They must also forward this information electronically to the relevant minister. In this connection, institutions must:

  • always publicly disclose what current and former senior officials have earned and what redundancy payments they have received, regardless of whether these amounts are above or below the applicable standard;
  • always publish the remuneration details of other officials if their salaries or redundancy payments exceed the maximum level permitted.  A previous WNT disclosure is also a reason to publish the redundancy payments of non-senior officials;
  • explain any breaches of the WNT.

Public and Semi-public Sector Senior Officials (Standard Remuneration) (Supplementary Provisions) Act in force

On 28 November 2014, the Public and Semi-public Sector Senior Officials (Standard Remuneration) (Supplementary Provisions) Act came into force. This new Act will help ensure that the WNT is more effectively implemented.

Term Balkenendenorm not used

In the Netherlands, the Balkenendenorm (Balkenende standard) is a commonly used term. It is named after Jan Peter Balkenende, prime minister of the Netherlands from 2002 to 2010. In practice, it refers not to one, but to various salary standards. This makes the term confusing, so the government doesn’t use it.