Netherlands - Labor

As of 2000, the labor force numbered 7.2 million. An estimated 73% were employed in services, 23% in manufacturing and construction, and 4% in agriculture. The unemployed represented about 3% of the workforce in 2002, compared with1.2% in 1970, and 13% in 1985. Most labor unions are organized on the basis of a specific religious, political, or economic orientation and belong to a similarly oriented central federation. The Federated Dutch Trade Union Movement (FNV) is the largest Dutch labor union. Strikes are permitted but rare. Total membership of all labor unions in 2002 was 28% of those employed. However, collective bargaining agreements cover almost three-quarters of the labor force. Anti-union discrimination is prohibited.

The Social and Economic Council, on which labor is represented, advises the government on the main guidelines of wage policy. The law stipulates a 40-hour workweek, but in 2002 the average worker worked 37.5 hours. The five-day workweek has been generally adopted. Workers receive workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, sick pay, payment for legal holidays, and paid vacations. The employment of women and adolescents for night work is forbidden. The minimum wage was $1,050 per month in 2002 although most workers earn more. There is a reduced minimum wage for workers under 23; it works on a sliding scale ranging from 35% of the adult minimum wage for a 16 year old to 85% for those 22 years of age. The minimum age for employment is 16 years.

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