Working in the US vs working in the Netherlands
There are many American expats in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam. Depending on where you are from in the US, moving to Europe can be a culture shock. Going from commuting to work by taking a taxi in NYC or driving a suburban, to riding your bike or taking the tram in the oh-so-chaotic traffic of Amsterdam. If you’re moving to the Netherlands as an American, then here are some things you need to know:
Paid holiday days in the Netherlands
Let’s start with some great news! Days off! Who doesn’t love those? Moving from the US to the Netherlands will increase your days off per year and provide you with more downtime. The average number of paid days off an American worker receives is 10 per year. In contrast, full-time employees in the Netherlands are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid holiday leave.
Even though companies are only required to give their employees 20 days off by law, most employees will get an average of 25 to 30 days off. Besides getting paid days off, you will also get time off during the many different holidays, such as Easter and Christmas.
In the Netherlands, some holidays are spread over two days instead of one, for example, you get two days of Easter and two days of Christmas. And to add on to that, Dutch employers are required to pay 8 percent of an employee's annual income to them as a holiday allowance. Not too bad, right?
Dutch employment law
More good news! It’s almost impossible to get fired in the Netherlands, unless you bluntly disobey the rules, obviously. Job security is one less stressor in life, isn’t it?
It’s almost impossible to get fired in the Netherlands.
So, why is it not that easy to lay someone off? Well, it's because a mixture of legal requirements is necessary for dismissal. There has to be a legitimate reason for firing someone. Some of these reasons are frequent sickness absence, poor performance, culpable behaviour, conscientious objections and disturbed working relations.
What do the Dutch wear to work?
In general, the Dutch have a good sense of style. Depending on what kind of company you’ll be working for, most will require business casual attire. Business casual in the Netherlands for men can be khakis or dress pants and a shirt or a polo shirt, for example, whilst business casual in the US is mostly dress pants, a dress shirt and (optional) a jacket.
For women, dress pants or a skirt with a blouse would be considered business casual attire. Some companies’ dress code is fairly casual, and jeans might even be allowed. Another trend that companies have implemented recently is casual Fridays, where you get to wear sneakers on Fridays, for example. Keep in mind that no matter what the Dutch wear, they will always show up put together.
Some need-to-know extras
It can be challenging coming to another country and not speaking the language. Yes, it would be convenient to pick up some Dutch, but you can expect most people to be able to speak a standard level of English, especially in the bigger cities.
The public transportation system is on another level. If you live in Amsterdam, you don't need a car to get around. There are trains, buses, metros and trams running all day long that will take you anywhere throughout the city and beyond. Getting a bike is helpful for short trips to the grocery store or your friends' places.
It's not common to go out for lunch.
Lunch is sometimes provided by the company you work for or people bring their own lunch. In the US, it’s very common to go out for lunch but in the Netherlands, that doesn’t happen too often, unless you have a meeting during lunchtime. Friday afternoons are usually for having some drinks and snacks with your colleagues.
Recruitment agencies in the Netherlands
Finding a job in a new country can be challenging since you probably haven’t made a lot of connections yet. Start networking and use LinkedIn to connect with people, but also feel free to contact a recruitment agency or HR consulting firm.
Recruitment agencies have many connections with non-Dutch / international companies as well as Dutch companies. After sharing your resume with a recruitment agency, their recruiters will try and see if they can find a good fit for you and the vacancies they’re trying to fill.
Get ready to head overseas
Now that you know all these ins and outs, you hopefully feel a little more prepared and comfortable moving to and working in the Netherlands. Keep in mind that most people there speak English and will welcome you with open arms. Buy a bike and a public transportation card and explore the country!