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2 Jan 2024 Changes in labour law from 1 January 2024

Another new year has arrived and that means - also in the field of labour law - another set of changes. In our contribution today, we have listed these for you.

Introduction of minimum hourly wage and indexation.

The minimum wage law comes into force on 1 January 2024. From then on, it will be compulsory to pay hourly employees at least the statutory minimum hourly wage. A single minimum hourly wage applies to all employees aged 21 and over. For workers under 21, minimum hourly wages apply. The amount of the minimum hourly wage is based on the 'old' minimum monthly wage for a full-time working week of 36 hours. This means that minimum-wage workers who work more than 36 hours per week (e.g. 38 or 40 hours) will benefit. They get a higher wage. Salary scales in collective agreements or other working conditions regulations should be adjusted accordingly (if they have not already been).

The minimum hourly wage is indexed every six months. As of 1 January 2024, the increase is 3.75%. The minimum hourly wage for employees aged 21 and over will then come to EUR 13.27 gross. An overview of the current amounts can be found on the central government website.

Whistleblower Protection Act (also) in force for medium-sized employers

The Whistleblowers Protection Act came into force for large employers (at least 250 employees) on 18 February 2023. On 17 December 2023, it also came into force for medium-sized employers. From that date, the law applies to all employers with 50 or more employees in both the public and private sectors. Incidentally, this is a partial entry into force. The sanction possibilities of the House for Whistleblowers and the method of anonymous reporting still need to be further elaborated in an AMvB.

Austerity of the 30% ruling

The so-called 30% rule allows incoming expats to be paid 30% of wages untaxed for five years. From 1 January 2024, two austerity measures will take effect. First, the 30% rule will be capped to the remuneration maximum from the Top Income Standardisation Act (2024: EUR 233,000 gross). This capping will apply to expats using the 30% rule from 1 January 2023. For expats already covered by the 30% rule in 2022, a transitional arrangement applies. They will not be affected by the capping until 2026.

Furthermore, the 30% rule will be phased out. From 1 January 2024, an exemption of 30% of the salary applies for the first 20 months, an exemption of 20% applies for the following 20 months and an exemption of 10% applies during the last 20 months. For expats already covered by the 30% rule in 2023, transitional rules apply. The phase-out rule does not apply to them.

During the discussion of the phasing-out scheme in the Senate, a motion was adopted regarding the 30% rule. The submitters request the government to bring forward the evaluation of the 30% rule and, based on this, to come up with an alternative in the Tax Plan 2025 that is less harmful to the economy. Thus, it cannot be ruled out that the phasing-out of the 30% rule will still be reversed and/or replaced by a less far-reaching austerity.

Model agreements based on free substitution revoked

In its judgment of 24 March 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that Deliveroo deliverymen are employees and therefore not ZZP-ers. Whether there is an employment contract depends on all the circumstances of the case, according to the Supreme Court. The obligation to perform the work personally is one of the elements that may be important in assessing the employment relationship, but not decisive. This means that model agreements based on free substitution are no longer useful. Therefore, the Tax Office will withdraw approval of these model agreements from 1 January 2024. Parties working with this agreement will have until that date to reassess their relationship.

Model agreements can be found on the Tax Authority's website.

Modernisation of child labour laws and regulations

Social Affairs and Employment Minister Van Gennip modernises laws and regulations on child labour. Since 5 November 2023, there has been a ban on so-called flash workers under the age of 16. The further regulation on child labour is expected to be further amended. In early 2024, it will be regulated that 13-15-year-olds may work until 8pm on a non-school day, instead of until 7pm. Working time and rest time will remain the same in scope. For 13 and 14-year-olds, in addition, a parent/guardian must give permission. It is still unknown on which date these changes will come into effect.

For children working as influencers, more time is needed to make clearer rules. The House of Representatives will be informed about this in the first half of 2024.

Expired STAP budget, temporary extension of SLIM scheme

The STAP budget (Stimulus labour market position) is an allowance for training and development of EUR 1,000 per person per year. The government has decided to terminate the STAP budget. From 2024, no more funds will be released for this.

An amount of EUR 147 million remains from the 2023 STAP budget resources. Of this amount, EUR 73.7 million will be used to temporarily increase the SLIM scheme (Incentive scheme for learning and development in SMEs) in the period 2024-2027.

SZW Collective Act 2024/Paid Parental Leave Act

The SZW 2024 Collective Act contains so-called 'minor policy'. It looks at textual adjustments, technical improvements and clarifications. One noteworthy change is the correction of an omission in the Paid Parental Leave Act. The Paid Parental Leave Act implemented EU Directive 2019/1158 last year. As a result, employees have been entitled to nine weeks of partially paid parental leave in the child's first year of life since 2 August 2022. The Paid Parental Leave Act erroneously did not delete Section 6:1(3) Wazo. This paragraph stipulates that an employee who performs work outside the Netherlands is entitled to parental leave, unless a compelling business or service interest prevents this. This is not in line with Directive 2019/1158. This directive gives an unconditional right to parental leave. With effect from 1 January 2024, Art. 6:1(3) Wazo will therefore lapse.

For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that the scheduling of parental leave can, however, be changed due to compelling business or service interests. This is regulated in Art. 6:5 Wazo.

Entry age into pension scheme from 21 to 18 years old

As a result of the Future Pensions Act entering into force, the entry age for pension accrual will be lowered from 21 to 18 on 1 January 2024. Pension schemes that still assume an entry age of 21 will therefore have to be adjusted.

State pension age unchanged in 2029

For the years 2024 to 2027, the state pension age will be 67 and in 2028 it will be 67 years and three months. Minister Schouten (Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions) has announced that the AOW age will remain unchanged at 67 years and three months in 2029. For more information, see central government website.

Indexations

Some important indexations

Increase maximum transitional allowance
The maximum transitional allowance in 2024 will be EUR 94,000 gross (2023: EUR 89,000 gross) or a maximum of one year's salary if the salary exceeds that amount.

Increase in WNT remuneration ceilings
For 2024, the general remuneration maximum from the Top Income Standardisation Act (WNT) has been set at EUR 233,000 gross (2023: EUR 223,000 gross). The WNT caps the remuneration of top officials in the (semi)public sector. Reduced ceilings have been set for the education, culture, media, housing associations, healthcare and development cooperation sectors. An increased maximum applies to health insurers. An overview of the WNT remuneration ceilings for 2024 can be found here. The new Implementation Regulations WNT 2024 and Policy Rules WNT 2024 have also been published. The Policy Rules WNT 2024 have not changed in substance. The new Implementation Rules WNT 2024 have been modified in some respects. For instance, the description of a number of remuneration components has been clarified in response to developments regarding modernisation and flexibilisation of employment conditions.

Untaxed home allowance
The untaxed homework allowance will be increased to a maximum of EUR 2.35 per day in 2024 (2023: EUR 2.15).

untaxed travel allowance
The untaxed travel allowance will be increased to a maximum of EUR 0.23 per kilometre in 2024 (2023: EUR 0.21).

Free space working costs scheme
The temporary increase of the free space in the work-related costs scheme will expire. From 2024, the free margin for the wage bill up to and including EUR 400,000 will be: 1,92% (2023: 3%). As far as the wage bill exceeds EUR 400,000, the free room has remained unchanged at 1,18%.

Other

Moreover, in the past year there have been several internet consultations on labour law draft bills. Some notable draft bills include the Clarifying Assessment of Employment Relationships and Legal Presumption Act (also known as the 'zzp Act') and the Improving Security for Flex Workers Act . Should the internet consultations lead to legislative proposals, we will of course let you know.

Should you have any questions about the content of this contribution or should you have other labour law questions, please feel free to contact one of the labour law lawyers at SPEE advocaten & mediation.

SPEE advocaten & mediation Maastricht

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