Unemployment benefits

If an employee loses their job, they may be entitled to unemployment benefits (WW-uitkering). The employee can apply for unemployment benefits at UWV. UWV will verify whether the (ex-)employee meets the conditions to receive unemployment benefits and decide the amount to be received and the time period during which the benefit will be received. Expats are also entitled to unemployment benefits if they meet the conditions.

The topic of unemployment benefits is also important for employers. This is because the employer needs to pay contributions for the unemployment benefit from the salary of their current employees. Employers may also be obligated to pay an addition or extension of the unemployment benefits based on a collective labour agreement or may have chosen to be fully responsible for the unemployment benefits (in Dutch: eigenrisicodrager)

  • 26 out of 36 weeks

In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, the employee must have worked for at least 26 weeks in the past 36 weeks. If the employee was sick, has been on pregnancy or birth leave during the past 36 weeks or took unpaid leave, the period looked at will be a period further back than 36 weeks.

  • No fault

The loss of job must not be the consequence of the fault of the employee, meaning that an employee is not entitled to unemployment benefit if they have quit their own job or are fired due to gross culpable acting or negligence or instant dismissal.  

Ending an employment contract with mutual agreement is another story. In this case, UWV will base their decision on the wording and content of the settlement agreement. For example, the end date should respect the applicable notice period and the settlement agreement should state that it has been agreed upon at the initiative of the employer. These are only a few examples. Many other details will determine whether the (ex-)employee is entitled to unemployment benefits after a settlement agreement. This is one of the many reasons why it is advisable to have an employment lawyer check the settlement agreement before agreeing to it.

  • Available for work

The (ex)employee must be available for work. Therefore, if the (ex)employee is sick when the employment contract ends, they will not receive unemployment benefits. The same applies to planned unpaid activities that prevents the start of a new job.

  • Loss of more than 5 hours

The (ex-)employee is only entitled to unemployment benefits if the loss constitutes a loss of more than five hours of employment per week. Partial unemployment may therefore also lead to a right to unemployment benefits. If an employee works less than 10 hours a week, the employee qualifies for unemployment if they lose half or more of those hours.

  • The employee was insured against unemployment

Employees are usually insured against unemployment. Their employees have to pay contributions over their salary. These contributions are lower for employees with an indefinite term contract than for employees with a fixed term contract. Those who are self-employed are usually not insured against unemployment.

Duration of the unemployment benefits

The unemployment benefits last a minimum of 3 months. If an ex-employee has worked for more than 4 years out of the past 5 years, their unemployment benefits may be extended. The duration of the benefits is equal in months to the years they have worked up to 10 years. If the ex-employee has worked for 11 or more years, the additional years count for half a month of unemployment benefits each. The duration of the statutory unemployment benefits cannot surpass 24 months. A few examples:

  • An ex-employee who has worked for the past 6 years will be entitled to 6 months of unemployment benefits.
  • An ex-employee who has worked for the past 12 years, will be entitled to 11 months of unemployment benefits.
  • An ex-employee who has worked for the past 30 years, will be entitled to 24 months of unemployment benefits.

Years worked abroad may sometimes also count towards this rule. In that case, the ex-employee will need to prove that they worked these years with adequate documentation. UWV will then confirm this with the respective foreign authorities. 

Amount of unemployment benefits

Unemployment benefits are 75% of your gross salary during the first 2 months and 70% during the remaining months.