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Chain of employment

12 januari 2021

Under Dutch law a distinction is made between fixed term employment contracts and employment contracts for an indefinite time.

Three fixed term contracts can be given with a term of 36 months. If the total term of 36 months is exceeded or a fourth contract is offered it will be a contract for an indefinite time by law.

When an employee leaves service a period or break of at least 6 months between contracts is required before a new chain of employment can be started.

For example, as an employer you can offer three contracts of one year each before you have to offer a permanent contract. As an employer you are free to choose this. It is good to be aware that a probationary period, for example, is only allowed for longer than six months. Even if the employer and employee together form a fourth temporary employment contract, then legally there is a fixed-term employment contract.


There are two exceptions. The chain scheme does not apply to BBL students and employees under the age of 18 who work an average of no more than 12 hours per week. When the employee turns 18 or has completed the BBL training, the current contract will be the first in the chain.

In addition, there is also an exception for employees who are hired after reaching the state pension age. This means that six temporary employment contracts may be concluded within a period of 48 months before an employment contract for an indefinite period is created.

Temporary workers

In principle, all previous contracts count towards the chain scheme. However, a provision has been included in the Collective Labour Agreement for Retail Non-Food with regard to temporary workers. If an employer hires a former temporary worker who has directly worked for the employer as a temporary worker, the various employment contracts will be regarded as one employment contract for the insured person of the temporary employment contracts. This therefore applies together as a first contract in the chain scheme. When the temporary agency worker is directly employed by the employer as employee, the second labour contract in the chain of employment starts.

Thijmen de Coo

Thijmen de Coo

Adviseur Ondernemersservice

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