Selecting a location to continue your business after Brexit: From London to the Gateway of Europe.
A few months ago Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, reported that many UK-based businesses are deciding to move all or part their operations to EU member states to continue serving customers from the single market. Uncertainty has prompted organisations to look around in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit trying to prevent their business from possible negative consequences in the nearby future.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHILE BREXIT IS HAPPENING?
Of course, this is not an easy straightforward and easy question to answer. First of all, you need to understand the implications for your business, whether you are currently setting up a legal entity or perhaps thinking of expanding activities and relocating offices and staff to another country. In the meantime, the Netherlands has proven to be an interesting destination and some 140 organisations are mentioned in the media to have started some form of operation in the Netherlands This number is still growing at the start of 2020. Among others most companies are from the financial, media and pharmaceutical sector [Source: Dutch foreign investment agency NFIA].
According to the Financial Times, the central location and the business-friendly climate are the biggest attraction factors in the Netherlands. The country has an excellent logistics network, low tax rates and little bureaucracy compared to other EU member states.
Once you decided to set up shop in the Netherlands you will need to make the necessary steps and determine your priorities such as deciding the legal structure of your company. You might have been offered help already from authorities, consultancy or solicitors. For the registration of your company, you will need to register with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Remember that UK nationals are no longer free to work in the EU member states. Depending on new agreements between the UK and the EU, restrictions will be imposed on UK employers to work in the EU. This means that visa and work permits are required and countries can impose requirements on, for example, the level of education of migrants or the level of salary
You find yourself without doubt in new territory however it might be good to know that Dutch labour relations are in fact very organised. Your company could very well be subject to a Collective Labour Agreement (CLA), or in Dutch: “CAO”, which determines terms and conditions of employment. CAO’s include wage sections, incorporating specific salary tables and a section on working hours (rosters, holidays and special leave) alongside a wide range of other topics. These usually include arrangement around overtime and other allowances, probation and notice periods, pensions, employability, absence and working conditions. Also see: https://business.gov.nl/regulation/cao/ It is an important step is to find out whether a CAO is applicable to your business sector. Many sector organisations publish the CAO relevant to their sector on their website. If there is not a CAO in place, the terms of employment are laid out in the individual employment contract. At that stage, you probably want to consult with a Dutch employment lawyer. If there is a CAO, the employment contract is an expression of support for the terms in the CAO. In the individual employment contract, you must state whether a CAO applies. If the CAO and an employment contract contradict each other, the CAO prevails.
Ofcounsel can always provide you a quick, basic understanding of how Dutch labour relations and work are structured. As a trusted partner we are happy to listen to your requirements and give our advice on various themes. On one hand, we offer cost effective HR solutions such as ‘best practice’ human resources policies and procedures relevant to your situation. We prepare employment contracts or employee handbooks. In other instances, we arrange a company secretariat, corporate housekeeping or advise on corporate law issues or regulations concerning your business sector.
Hans Moltmaker is a labour law solicitor and member of the Anglo-Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
Ed van Dijken is an HR practitioner with experience of living and working in both the UK and the Netherlands.