Clarification about fines for illegal work

Illegal work in the Netherlands

For people with Dutch nationality or the nationality of one of the countries of the European Economic Area (in other words, the countries of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, work is freely permitted in the Netherlands. Free movement of workers applies to these countries.

The Aliens Employment Act (“Wav”) prohibits employers and private individuals from allowing foreign workers who do not have free access to the Dutch labor market to work without a valid work permit or combined residence and work permit. The Inspectorate SZW checks whether these prohibitions are complied with and imposes fines if illegal work is detected.

The standard penalty amounts are:


Natural person who has a household or personal service provided
Natural person, acting from office, profession or company
Foundation or association with a public interest objective
Actual manager who led the prohibited behavior
Other legal entities

Penalty amount

€ 2,000
€ 4,000
€ 4,000
€ 6,000
€ 8,000

The fine can be increased by 50% in the following situations, among others:

  • The employer has deliberately evaded the regulations;
  • The offense involves three or more foreign nationals, or persons whose identities are not certain;
  • The violation was committed by a legal person, or equivalent, of which a legal representative was previously the legal representative of another legal person, or equivalent, for whom a violation of the Aliens Employment Act has been established, and of which the business activities and location where or from which the work is performed have remained the same.
  • In the five years prior to the violation, a violation of the Aliens Employment Act had previously been observed with regard to the employer or the manager.

Depending on the situation, a fine may not be imposed, but a warning will suffice. However, the step to imposing a fine is small.

Importance for practice 

When personnel from another organization perform activities for you, you may be confronted with a fine based on the Wav if illegal labor is found. This fine also applies if you involve staff from an employment agency with a quality mark from the Labor Standards Foundation (NEN). The fine will then be reduced to 25%, but that is still substantial. The advice is to take measures up front to prevent illegal work and if it should unexpectedly occur make sure that you have taken the right measures to mitigate a fine by hopefully 100%.

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