Equal treatment and pay

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 31 Aug 2022
1 min read
Nederlandse versie

If you employ staff in the Netherlands, you may not discriminate. This means you are not allowed to treat employees differently, discriminate or exclude anyone on the grounds of:

  • religion
  • beliefs
  • political opinions
  • age
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • gender
  • disability or long-term illness
  • sexual orientation
  • marital status

This rule relates among others recruitment and selection, entering into employment, promotions, dismissal, professional education, terms of employment and wages and working conditions.

Equal treatment during pregnancy

Pregnant employees or pregnant job applicants should get equal treatment to other employees and applicants. Pregnant employees must also be able to work in a safe and healthy environment. If you cannot (sufficiently) eliminate possible hazards you must offer alternative work. Pregnant employees are entitled to adapted working hours and pregnancy leave. You are not allowed to dismiss an employee because she is or wants to become pregnant. When the employee returns to work, this is on the same position. You also cannot refuse a contract renewal.

Equal treatment and recruitment

When recruiting new employees, you are not allowed to discourage (groups of) people to apply. You must for instance use neutral language in job adverts. For example he/she instead of just he or just she.

You must make sure you treat all job applicants equally. There are some exceptions to this rule, for instance in case:

  • a specific group is under-represented in your company (affirmative action or positive discrimination)
  • a candidate should meet specific requirements to perform the role. For instance a call centre agent who must be fluent in Dutch
  • the work is too dangerous to perform by employees under 18 years of age (age discrimination)

You may not ask questions about the personal life or health of an applicant, for instance about their family or if they want to have children.

Filing a complaint about discriminatory treatment

If an employee feels to be a victim of unequal treatment or pay, they can discuss this with you. You have to handle this complaint carefully. Is your employee not satisfied with the way you are handling the complaint? They can request an opinion of or file a complaint to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (College voor de Rechten van de Mens, in Dutch).

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