From tips and holiday allowances to high-earning jobs and tax breaks, learn more about the Netherlands’ minimum wage and average salary.
The Netherlands is an attractive country for relocation. If it’s not for the beautiful tulip fields, Dutch cuisine, or bicycling culture, it is most likely for the incredible life-work balance and liveable wages. After Luxembourg, the country has the second-highest minimum wage in Europe, which the government reviews bi-annually.
So, what is the minimum wage in the Netherlands, and which sector offers the highest salary? Are your earnings fair, or is it time to contact a union representative? Here are the ins and outs of getting Dutch remuneration:
- The minimum wage in the Netherlands
- Variations and exclusions of minimum wage in the Netherlands
- Salaries and wages for expats in the Netherlands
- The average salary in the Netherlands
- The gender pay gap in the Netherlands
- What to do if your wage is below the minimum in the Netherlands?
- Useful resources
The minimum wage in the Netherlands
Employers are legally required to pay their employees a gross minimum wage (minimumloon) for their work during a given period. A person’s salary cannot be below the minimum wage. If it is less, the contract will be nullified.
Comparatively, the Netherlands has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe (EU), similar to Belgium. For example, the Dutch minimum wage for adults (21 and older) is around €1.756 per month, based on a 40-hour work week (July 2022).
The legal minimum of vacation days
If you are a full-time employee working 40 hours, you’ll get 160 hours of paid time off per year (i.e, 20 days). However, more often than not, Dutch employers will give you 25 paid vacation days.
What counts or doesn’t count toward the minimum wage?
The statutory minimum wage consists of a basic salary and other components, such as customer tips and performance-related payments for shift work.
There are also several other components that do not count towards the minimum wage. These include overtime pay, profit shares, and end-of-the-year bonuses.
Variations and exclusions of minimum wage in the Netherlands
Young people or minimum jeugdloon
The government sets the minimum wage for adults aged 21 or older. Workers between the age of 15 and 20 will get a minimum youth wage (minimumjeugdloon). There is no statutory wage for employees younger than that. If you are 13 or 14 and work at a supermarket, for example, you can agree on a rate with your employer.
Employers calculate the youth wage by taking the minimum wage of the previous ladder minus 20%. In other words, if the minimum wage for adults is €1000, then the minimum wage for 20-year-olds would be €1000 minus 20% = €800. The minimum wage for 19-year-olds would be €800 minus 20% = €640.
|Age||Per month||Per week||Per day|
|21 years & older||€1.756,20||€405,30||€81,06|
Again, this salary is based on a 40-hour work week. Using the minimum wage calculator on the Dutch government’s website, you can check what you’ll earn with the hours you work
Although volunteers provide work, they are not eligible for a minimum wage. They can, however, receive a tax-free volunteering fee (vrijwilligersvergoeding).
It is essential to remember that the position needs to qualify as a volunteering job. That means that:
- The role serves the public interest or addresses a specific social issue
- The employer cannot make a profit from the volunteer
- The volunteer does not replace a paid employee and does not negatively impact the labor market
If the volunteering position does not match these requirements, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) will consider the volunteer an employee who must receive a minimum wage.
Interns and apprentices
In the Netherlands, internships form part of a person’s higher education training. Therefore, because the internship and apprenticeship focus on gaining work experience, the employer does not have to pay minimum wage.
However, if the company treats the intern as a regular employee (i.e., their work contributes to production and turnover), they must earn a minimum wage. The Netherlands Labor Authority (Arbeidsinspectie – NLA) can issue a penalty if the intern is exploited.
Freelancers (zelfstandige ondernemer or zzp’er) don’t have to earn a minimum wage. This is because it setting a standardized rate for project-based work is often difficult. Instead, freelancers have the freedom to determine the rates for their products or services.
In some cases, when you receive WAJONG benefits, you can earn below the statutory minimum. Still, your employer needs permission from the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV). Young people who cannot work due to a disability or severe illness can claim WAJONG benefits.
Salaries and wages for expats in the Netherlands
The minimum wage in the Netherlands doesn’t differ for a Dutch citizen or a foreign national. Employers must legally pay you the minimum wage as set by the government.
However, in some cases, it pays to be a foreign national living in the country. Certain employees can benefit from a tax break called the 30% ruling. This ruling means that highly-skilled migrants don’t have to pay tax on 30% of their salary for five years.
The average salary in the Netherlands
How much you earn in the Netherlands – in paid employment – depends on your gender, age, education level, experience, and the sector you work in. According to data from the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, men earned an average salary of €46,420 per year in 2021, whereas women earned an annual average of €29,780. This translates to a gender pay gap of 43.7 in the Netherlands.
Dutch employees are also entitled to an annual holiday allowance (vakantiegeld). This is at least 8% of your gross wage for the previous year and includes ancillary activities, such as overtime and commissions.
If you want to know how much you’ve earned after taxes in the Netherlands, you can calculate it using this Dutch Income Tax Calculator.
What is the average income per sector in the Netherlands?
- Banking (average annual salary of €67,340)
- Law (average yearly salary of €67,504)
- Chemics, Oil, and Energy (average annual salary of €62,649)
To know more about the average salary per job title, you can check the National Profession Guide (in Dutch).
What is the average income per province in the Netherlands?
Most big companies are situated in the Randstad (i.e., the region with the four largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague (Den Haag), and Utrecht). This is reflected in the average salary per province as well. In 2020, the average annual income was:
Salary checker in the Netherlands
There are numerous sites where you can check if you are earning more or less than your peers. One such site is the Salariskompas from Intermediair (in Dutch).
The gender pay gap in the Netherlands
Unfortunately, Dutch women still endure a gender pay gap of 13.7% in 2021.
This disparity can largely be attributed to many women working in underpaid social sectors, such as care, welfare, and education. Men, on the other hand, are overrepresented in high-paid sectors, such as IT and technology.
Another reason for the disproportionate pay gap is that only 26.2% of women work in managerial positions (2021).
According to Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, women often face implicit bias and are seen as less ambitious. Stereotypical accusations include that women should work more hours and learn to negotiate better.
If you feel discriminated against based on your gender, you can contact a union representative, the Nederlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie – NLA), or a women’s rights organization, such as WO=MEN.
What to do if your wage is below the minimum in the Netherlands?
If you are underpaid, first speak to your employer. Next, if this is unsuccessful, you can reach out to a union representative or get free advice from the legal aid help desk, Juridisch Loket.
If your employer dismisses your concerns, you can take your case to the NLA. You can contact them in Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. You can also file an anonymous complaint if you are concerned about your employer’s response.
If the Labor Authority agrees with you, your employer will be fined up to €10,000 per employee and forced to pay your outstanding wages within four weeks. If they don’t pay, they will be fined around €500 per day per employee up to a maximum of €40,000 in total per employee.
- Government.nl – website of the Dutch government with information and useful links
- Business.gov.nl – business portal with information about owning and doing business in the Netherlands
- NLA – the government agency responsible for all things related to employment law
- FNV – largest labor union in the Netherlands