So you decided to work in another country ?! You are certainly not alone, seven million Europeans work abroad; much of it within the European Union. Most are left with a lot of questions about legislation at the beginning, for example about the maximum number of hours or the holidays. However, it is not as complicated as it seems.
International labor law
International labor law is based on a very simple basic principle: every employee is in principle subject to the laws of the country where he normally works. So if you make a short business trip, you still fall under Dutch law. If you are going to work in another country for a longer period and / or for a foreign employer, the laws there apply (unless stated otherwise in your contract).
You can also work and live in another EU country without a work permit. This applies to both salaried and self-employed workers. It is advisable to inform yourself well if no other papers are needed, for example an employment contract or a statement of good conduct and morals.
To ensure that no abuses arise and to make legislation as equal as possible, there are some provisions that apply throughout the EU. These mainly concern safety, working conditions and working hours.
Maximum working hours and minimum holidays
There is a maximum working week of 48 hours on average throughout Europe; this is calculated over a period of one year. You may incidentally make a week of 60 hours, if the average remains only 48. So you don’t have to worry about endless hours being asked of you in another country.
As a Dutch citizen, you usually even have an advantage in terms of vacation days if you work in the EU! The Dutch have the least vacation days in Western Europe. Although there are differences between the national holidays, there is also a European provision here: the minimum is four weeks of paid holidays per year, which must not be exchanged for payment. Of course there are also so-called compulsory days off on public holidays in every country.
Breaks and free time
The breaks and working weeks are also set to a minimum by law:
- You get a break every six hours or more in accordance with collective labor agreement guidelines or national legislation
- You get a minimum of 11 hours of rest per day
- You need to have at least 24 hours off per week
Do you work night shifts? Or do you have other special working hours? The breaks and maximum working hours, sometimes per occupational group, are also determined here by European law. For example, you are allowed to work a maximum of 8 hours a night shift per 24 hours and you are also not allowed to work 5 nights a week. So you can safely assume that in every European country the peace you need is taken into account.
Minimum wages and safety
The minimum wage is not determined at European level, this is not feasible due to the large economic differences between the Member States. So take a good look at your contract and compare the offered hourly wages with the minimum in your new home country.
Veiligheid is wel aan Europese richtlijnen gebonden. Natuurlijk zijn er ook hierin verschillen per land te ontdekken, maar de basismaatregelen zijn overal hetzelfde. Aarzel niet om kritisch te kijken naar de werkomstandigheden; waar je werkgever ook zit, hij is verantwoordelijk voor een veilige werkomgeving en gedegen uitrusting/apparatuur.
Ongevallen en ziekte
Ervan uitgaande dat je onder de wetten van je nieuwe thuisland valt, zal ook je ziektewet en ongevallenverzekering onder de betreffende wetgeving vallen. Er worden verschillende stelsels gehanteerd die al dan niet afhangen van hoe lang je verzekerd bent geweest voor ziektekosten. Het is dus verstandig om van tevoren uit te zoeken wanneer je volledig gedekt bent en als je van plan bent langere tijd weg te blijven, is het altijd verstandig een extra verzekering af te sluiten.
Combating sickness absence is handled differently in every European country; in practice this means that you have to inform well in advance about payments and the like.