Friday, September 6, 2013

Negotiating a Contract

After a strenuous selection process (see earlier post!) you finally got an offer?

Let's see what you can expect from a work contract in the Netherlands and what benefits you can negotiate. These information will help you to understand if what they are offering is good and what else you could ask for.

Standard Benefits
A basic contract, on top of the salary, includes the following benefits:

  • Holidays: a minimum of 20 days of paid holiday p/y
  • Commuting allowance: up to 100% public transport reimbursement or a certain refund per km if you drive your car to work (up to 60 km per day)
  • Pension plan (to which you contribute in a small percentage, around 4%)
  • Discount on the health insurance package if you choose the one suggested by your company (there is no public health assistance as in Italy, you have to pay for your own insurance - around 110 € per month for a basic insurance)

Differences with the Italian work contract
There are a few differences with the Italian contract that are worth knowing:

  • There is no TFR (the amount paid by Italian companies when you leave the job, either because you quit or retire)
  • There are very few bank holidays in the Netherlands! New Year’s Day (1 January), Easter Monday, Queen’s Day (30 April), Ascension Day (40 days after Easter), Whit Monday or Pentecost (7 weeks after Easter), Christmas and Boxing Day (25 and 26 December).
  • There are no fixed hourly leaves: you cannot just say "On Friday I am gonna take two hours off". You need to have a personal / familiar / health committment and you have to explain what it is. But in many companies you can ask your boss to stay longer every day and take a short Friday or a few hours off.
  • Maternity leave: 16 weeks at 100% of the salary (4 to 6 weeks before the delivery and 10 weeks after the delivery)*. Before the delivery you are also entitled to paid leaves to receive antenatal care (analysis, medical appointments and stuff).

*in Italy you have 22 weeks at 80%

Other special leaves:
• Marriage (including obtaining licenses): 2 days 
• Your 25th and 40th wedding anniversary: 1 and 2 days respectively
• Marriage of your own children, parent or siblings: 1 day
• Birth of your own child (for the father): 2 days
• Death of a family member (partner, parents, children, siblings, parents-in- law): from date of death until funeral
• Death of a relative (grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, brother- and sister-in-law): 1 day
• Taking an exam: travel time and the duration of the exam
• House moving: up to a maximum of 2 days per year, if required

Let's now discuss the thing that you are most interested in...the salary!
I was very uncertain about what would be a fair salary, and it's difficult to get a clear idea as it really depends on a lot of different factors.
For example, the cost of living can change dramatically between cities, with Amsterdam being the most expensive and Utrecht the second most expensive. It also depends on your field of expertise and your years of experience.
These are the average salaries in the Netherlands for the year 2013 (source):

women: €29,221 - €51,534
men: €34,858 - €65,512

As you can see, 30K is the minimum you should ask, even if you are very junior!
A Software Engineer starts at 35K, if it's senior 45 - 50k. A Project Manager earns around 50k. Managers start at 60-70k.

Taxes & Net Income
How much will you actually pay in taxes?

› 33% on the first 18.628 euros (1,85% taxes & 31,15% social security contributions)
› 41,95% on the next 14.808 euros (10,8% taxes & 31,15% social security contributions)
› 42% on the next 22.258 euros (tax only)

When calculating your net monthly income, bear in mind that:

  • There are 12 monthly pays + 1 "Vacation Pay" in June (8% of gross salary)
  • If you want to calculate your monthly net income, you should therefore do it WITHOUT including the vacation pay (i.e. 40K > (40K - 3,2K) = 36,8K)

So, for our 40K example, you would be getting a monthly net income of 1919 € (plus the Vacation Pay, which is also taxed). Remember that this does not include the health insurance.

You can find more information about the Dutch tax system here.

The biggest expense you'll have is the accommodation: rent prices for a (decent) studio start at a monthly 700 € in Utrecht and even 900 - 1000 € in Amsterdam. A room in a shared apartment can cost 400 - 600 € or more in Utrecht, and 600 - 800 € or more in Amsterdam. The price usually includes all bills.

30% Ruling
If you will be getting a gross salary of 50K or more, you can apply for the 30% ruling, which is a sort of tax "discount" that is allowed to skilled immigrants, to make up for the expenses that they need to cope with when living in a foreign country. Basically, only 70% of your gross salary gets taxed and the remaining 30% is tax free!

You can find many information about the 30% ruling here.
If you are eligible for the ruling, remember to ask the employer to sponsor you before signing the contract: the application must be signed jointly by you and the employer, and the employer must specify in the employment contract that they are going to apply for the 30% ruling for you.

If you apply within 4 months since the day you start working in the Netherlands, when you are granted the ruling this will be retrospective and they will refund the extra taxes you paid from the beginning. If you apply later than 4 months, the ruling will become effective as of the first day of the month following the month of application.

The ruling is granted by the government, therefore even if the company accepts to apply for you, this does not guarantee that you will be getting the discount.

Hope this was helpful! If you need more information or there is anything missing in this article that you would like to know about, please write in the posts :)



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