Apply for unemployment benefits in the Netherlands

(WW-uitkering): Step-by-step

Nearly every worker in the Netherlands is entitled to financial support from the Dutch Unemployment agency (UWV) in the event of unexpected job loss. If you are dismissed from your job in the Netherlands, you can apply to receive unemployment benefits (Werkloosheid Uitkering) from one week before your last day at work.

Fortunately, Dutch law requires employers to provide you with at least one month’s notice before your employment contract will end. The purpose of this notice is to give you time to find something new, and/or apply for financial support from the Dutch Unemployment agency (UWV).

The process of applying for unemployment benefits can be tricky for non-Dutch speakers to navigate. That’s why we created this handy, step-by-step guide to help you get the most out of your unemployment benefits – without getting lost in the process.

But first, how do I know if I am eligible to receive unemployment benefits?

Unemployment in the Netherlands is socialized – meaning nearly every working person is paying into the unemployment system while they work. This is known as the WW-Uitkering (unemployment benefits) in Dutch, and your employer is required to withhold an amount from your pay check each month to pay towards this fund. There are other funds available if you need to stop working for other reasons (for example, due to illness or injury, or to take maternity/paternity leave), but in this article we’re only going to explain the procedure if you were dismissed from work.

According to the UWV, you are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits as long as you meet the following criteria:

  • You are at least 18 years old, and younger than the pension age.
  • You have a valid residence permit (long-stay visas such as highly skilled migrant, European blue card, etc, qualify)
  • You lost your job due to a reason that wasn’t your fault. In practice, this usually means:
    • Your employment contract was terminated without your consent
    • Your employment contract was not extended
    • Your illness or injury prevents you from working (you would then apply for a different fund.)
  • You have worked consecutively 26 out of the last 36 weeks
  • You will live in the Netherlands while you receive unemployment payments
  • You are directly available for work

Step 1: Log in online one week before your last day

Which day will your employment contract end? You can apply for unemployment benefits as early as one week before this day. To get the most out of your unemployment benefits, it’s important to apply for these benefits within the first week of your last day. The amount you will receive is calculated from your last working day– therefore you are more likely to receive the full amount of unemployment benefits to which you are legally entitled to. If you are late to apply, then you risk receiving your unemployment benefits late as well.

The only way to apply for unemployment benefits in the Netherlands is online. You can log into the UWV dashboard, or apply directly with www.werk.nl. One week prior is the earliest you can apply for unemployment benefits. If you try to start the process sooner, the application process will stop and you’ll be asked to come back later.

Screenshot from application for unemployment benefits in the Netherlands

Likewise, the latest you can apply for unemployment benefits is one week after your last day of employment. If you wait any longer than one week to apply, you will not be able to apply via the online portal. You’ll need to initiate the process by contacting the UWV directly to explain why you were late.

Step 2: Provide information about your situation

To start the application, you will be asked to give some basic information about your situation, including why you became unemployed and the date you will become unemployed. You’ll also be asked if you are receiving any other benefits from the UWV (for example, if you receive payments due to illness or injury).

You’ll first be given several situations in which you may become unemployed. When writing this article, none of the mentioned situations were considered as a reason for your dismissal. Therefore, you will choose ‘Nee’ for every situation.

Next, you’ll be asked about the type of contract that was terminated. Was it a temporary contract? Were you on-call? Are you going to lose all of your work, or just a portion?

Screenshot from application with details about your sitatuation for unemployment benefits in the Netherlands

Finally, you will need to provide the date of your first day of “unemployment” and information about the number of hours you worked regularly (40 hours per week for full-time workers, although this may differ if you worked in shifts).

Step 3: Verify your information

Once you’ve provided your information, the next few screens will show you information about your current employer and current salary. The goal is to verify that all the information the UWV has about your employer is correct. If you were employed full-time for the last 26 weeks by one employer, this process is relatively straightforward. In the event you are employed by multiple employers, you will need to select the employer that will dismiss you. You will then verify the information from that employer.

If all is correct, you will receive an estimate of the amount you will receive per month. Generally, this is 75% of your monthly salary for the first two months which then decreases to 70% for the following months. However, you can never receive more than the maximum monthly wage. You can calculate the maximum monthly wage by multiplying the average number of working days in a month (21.75) by the maximum daily wage (€225.57 gross).

The UWV has developed a calculator to estimate of the amount you can expect to receive (in Dutch).

Once you have submitted your online application, you will be invited via email to an interview to discuss your case once more with a case worker from the UWV. You will be asked to bring documents, such as your employment contract and last payslip, to verify the information you gave throughout this application.

Step 4: Upload your CV to Werk.nl and Octagon Professionals

Now that the application has been submitted, go to werk.nl, and upload your CV. This website is owned by the UWV and it has great tips to help you find a new job. You’ll be asked to upload your CV to this site once you start receiving unemployment benefits, so it’s a good idea to get ahead of the curve.

As a receiver of unemployment benefits, you will need to apply for work regularly. In addition to werk.nl, you can improve your chances of finding a job by reaching out to employment agencies Octagon Professionals.

The UWV should approve or disapprove your application within four weeks of submission. You can track the progress of your case via the UWV dashboard. You may also be asked to provide the UWV with additional information during these four weeks for better assessment of your case.

Step 5: Complete your first income statement

Once your application is approved, one of the first tasks you’ll need to complete is filling out an income statement provided to you. This income statement is necessary to ensure you are not receiving other government aid. If you have other streams of income, you must report them here so the information can be taken into consideration when calculating your payment for the period. You have until the end of every month to complete your income statement, and you will NOT receive any payment for the period until the statement is submitted.

You will receive your first payment within 14 days of completing your first income statement. If you are concerned about the gap between your first day of unemployment, and the time you will receive your first unemployment payment, you can request an advance by contacting the UWV directly.

Submit your CV to Octagon Professionals

Octagon Professionals is a recruitment agency with 30 years of experience. Job seekers are critical to our success, and that’s why our expert consultants are passionate about connecting you with the best job placements that match your skills, and helping you present yourself as an excellent candidate to your future employer. If you’re looking to start the next challenge in your career, register your profile with Octagon Professionals and we’ll let you know when we have a job that’s right for you.

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