Working as a Student in the Netherlands

A lot of students are being supported by their parents nowadays, and it is not uncommon for them to want to make a little money on the side for their enjoyment. But the issue with being a student is that you study 5 times a week and usually only have your weekends free if you are not doing anything else. Having an employment contract with such studying hours can only mean that you are kissing your weekends goodbye by working in a clothing store, or hospitality. But what students want is flexible times, they want to have it all; studying, work, and fun. Working as a freelancer enables many students to work while maintaining their study schedule. This article briefly describes what students need to do to work in a self-employed capacity and what they need to be aware of when doing so.

Working as a Self-Employed

Students who have a valid student visa in the Netherlands can start a business alongside their studies. There is no need for additional documents like a working permit or any more visas from the IND. You only need at TWV if you work in paid employment.

How to Register as Self-Employed

For you to be self-employed (zelfstandige zonder personeel), you must find a business address to register with the Chamber of Commerce (KVK), a Dutch home address will work if you plan on working from home. Furthermore, you must also register with the Municipal Personal Records (BRP). For this, you will require a valid form of identification as you will receive a burgerservicenummer (BSN).

However, beware. When registering with the KVK, you need to choose a legal structure for your business. If you are working in a self-employed capacity, a sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak) is most common. You will be self-employed but it also means that you are personally liable for your business. Being personally liable for your business means that if your business enters into financial trouble, you will need to compensate the loss yourself.

Case Study: Uber and Self-Employment

While, in the past, many students have worked as drivers, this possibility is now limited. In 2021, the District Court of Amsterdam ruled that a ‘modern employment relationship’ exists between Uber and Uber drivers. The Dutch Collective Labor Agreement for Taxi Transport confirmed that the relationship between Uber and Uber drivers is indeed valid. In assessing whether the agreement between Uber and Uber drivers met the threshold of employment, the court considered three factors:

  • Work - drivers ‘work’ for Uber
  • Wages - the price for the ride constitutes the remuneration for transporting the passenger, and their work.
  • Authority - the drivers fall under the modern employer authority. (Digital Authority)

By the conclusion of the court, Uber has all the characteristics of an employment contract. The mere fact that drivers were referred to as ‘self-employed’ in their contracts with Uber did not imply that they were indeed self-employed. This decision is linked with an axiom that derives from employment law; ‘substance prevails over appearance’. Therefore, the Court qualified the agreements between Uber and Uber drivers as an employment contract.

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