Can a recruiter affect my work permit?

22nd July 2003, Comments 0 comments

Can a recruiter affect my work permit?

I was asked recently to take a position as general manager with a large company in the Netherlands. The Dutch company subsequently applied for a work permit but the application was turned down because the company failed to hire a recruiter. I'm from Canada and do not understand what a recruiter has to do with my Dutch work permit! Please explain.

As you probably know, specialised recruiters are an integral part of the recruitment industry. In recent years they prospered due to, or despite, tight labour supply conditions.

Somehow, the modern day recruiter found a place in the inner workings of the Dutch labour laws governing expatriates. This is where the answer to your question comes in.

By law, Dutch companies that intend to employ a non-EU/EER person must secure a work permit before commencement of employment. The regular application procedure requires the prospective employer to place advertisements in newspapers or magazines. The employer must furthermore register the job opening with the local Employment Office and preferably also with the European Employment Services (EURES for short). In other words, necessary steps must be taken to find a suitable candidate from the Netherlands or the European Union before issuance of a work permit is even considered.

Special regulations apply to certain top-level positions. Some time ago, the Central Employment Office (responsible for work permits) decided that these positions call for something extra. Work permit applications for high level managers or specialists with a yearly gross salary of EUR 90,756 or more, must contain evidence that a specialised recruiter made a genuine effort to find suitable candidates in the Netherlands and the European Union.

Most recruiters work on a 'success fee' basis. This means that they will only receive payment following a successful match between a candidate and the employer. This is off course an excellent incentive for any recruiter to deliver the right candidate for the job.

The recruiters' report must contain proof of printed advertisements and should have an adequate description of the actual recruitment procedure. The Employment Office will check the content of this report. For instance, if the recruiter states that five applicants were screened for a certain position but lacked sufficient skills, education or experience, the Employment Office would like to know the objective screening criteria. The prospective employer is no longer required to place regular advertisements in newspapers of magazines if a recruiter is hired.

As mentioned before, the Central Employment Office demands proof of printed advertisements. However, most recruiters find candidates through their networks and by following up interesting leads. Internet ads also plays an important role - but the Central Employment Office remains focussed on traditional print media.

On the one hand, the Central Employment Office introduces recruiters into the arena; on the other hand old-fashioned tools remain firmly in place. It's nice to know that some things never change.

This column is for informative purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal and professional advice. Dutch rules and regulations regarding aliens, work permits, benefits, visas and residence permits are continuously subject to change.

Patrick R. Rovers, Lawyer with Van Velzen CS, 5 March 2002

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