My daughter is a mathematics graduate. Three years ago, after finishing her studies, she left for Sweden to live there with her (Dutch) boyfriend. Last fall, he obtained his PhD from Stockholm University. After much deliberation, they decided to return to the Netherlands.
In the meantime, my daughter found employment as a software engineer at a Swedish startup. She enjoys her job very much and would really like to continue it from the Netherlands. As more colleagues work remotely, it was agreed that she could.
After their move, however, she no longer has a Swedish address, which seems to make it impossible for her to remain employed by the company. She could continue to work for them as a self-employed person, but then she would need to have more clients. If I understand correctly, a freelancer or self-employed person working exclusively for one client is regarded as false independence by the Dutch tax authorities. In all the media coverage on self-employed entrepreneurs, this remains unaddressed. It seems that the only solution is to quit and look for a new job in the Netherlands.
I realize that this isn’t directly related to your headhunting activities, but perhaps you recognize the problem and, from your experience with the employment situation in the Netherlands, can advise about my daughter’s predicament. What exactly are our possibilities with regard to Dutch law and tax authorities? Do you see a way for her to keep her job with her current employer?
The headhunter answers:
It’s certainly possible for your daughter to continue working for the startup after returning to the Netherlands. You could investigate the exact legal requirements for a Swedish address. However, having a residence there probably brings along all kinds of insurance and tax objections, making it a less than ideal solution.
Your daughter may also, as you mention, consider working as a freelancer for her current employer. I don’t expect having only one client will be a problem right away. The tax authorities are very lenient towards self-employed starters, especially in the current Covid pandemic. To that extent, this certainly seems a serious option, at least for the first couple of years.
It does have legal ramifications and creates some administrative hassle. For example, what happens in case of illness? As long as she stays healthy, it could be quite interesting financially. It’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons.
If she doesn’t like the hassle, my advice would be to talk to an employment agency or payroll company. These types of organizations can put her on the payroll and are all about facilitating employment relationships. There even is a temporary employment collective labor agreement with a pension.
Employment at a foreign company shouldn’t be too big a hurdle. There are bound to be agencies having experience with that. The accompanying costs I expect to be very reasonable. And now that Brexit has become a reality, these types of contracts will become even more common, which is why, for some agencies, this could also be a nice test case.