A few months ago, I was approached for an interim project management position at a large technology company in the Netherlands. To be able to work there, I had to apply for a highly skilled migrant visa because I had enjoyed a sabbatical in my home country outside Europe. After a few weeks, the visa was granted and I was ready to start my job.
Unfortunately, the secondment agency still needed to arrange a few things, so the start was delayed. It turned out that I was going to work in the Netherlands just for a few months and would then transfer to the head office in France. Because of this, the agency suddenly informed me that I could not claim the 30 percent rule for so-called extraterritorial costs – contrary to earlier communications. Wanting clarity, I applied for the rule with the Tax Authorities myself. And I got it!
Before I could make use of it, however, I was told my contract was being terminated. According to the agency, the client wanted French law to apply to my contract, which, they claimed, was impossible. After all, they said, my labor contract was intended for the Dutch office and not valid abroad. It was also necessary to apply for a new visa in France, something the agency wasn’t happy with either.
It has left me totally flabbergasted. I wonder what the real reason is for my dismissal. I have enjoyed working in the Netherlands for a number of years in the past and have always appreciated Dutch transparency and directness, but this beats all.
I’m now urgently seeking another job because my visa only gives me three months to look around after contract expiration. How can you help me?
The headhunter answers:
You’re in an extremely strange, coercive situation. You’ve traveled thousands of kilometers, you’ve incurred thousands of euros in costs and then you’re told that there are legal objections to the continuation of your employment. If you had accepted another offer, you would have had job security for a long time. Instead, you now have to explain at every application why you were fired during the probationary period.
What has happened to you once again demonstrates that European integration is still in its infancy. It also shows that large international secondment agencies are in a number of respects less international than they suggest. Although it would have required some effort, it would certainly have been possible to have you on the payroll in France.
This dismissal because of “legal impossibilities” is masking the underlying reason, being “we have no business interest in this” – in short: we do not make money from that. Incomprehensible. This flexibility in services should be very simple precisely because of this partnership between the Dutch and French sister organizations. When it comes to serving a customer, making a financial arrangement between the two is no problem at all.
In the meantime, you risk falling between two stools and you’re in a situation of coercion: you have to find a new, fun job in no time and you can actually only apply to companies that are recognized as sponsors of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). You can find these companies on the IND website.
I wonder how your situation relates to the duty of care imposed on the recognized sponsor by law. After all, he or she needs to ensure careful recruitment and selection and can be held responsible for the costs of this in the event of repatriation. I hope the agency has at least paid your travel expenses to the Netherlands – otherwise, you run the risk of leaving this country with considerable debt.