A raft of new laws was introduced by the Dutch government on 1 July, including several measures to deal with the rapidly increasing cost of living crisis engulfing the Netherlands, new business regulations and the very important issue of bread labels. Here is a selection of laws that Mark Rutte’s cabinet has instituted:
Minimum wage increase
There will be a modest increase in the minimum wage, one of multiple measures to combat rising inflation. Previously, people over the age of 21 working 36 hours a week earned the equivalent of €11.06 per hour. This will now increase by 20 cents to €11.26. As benefits are tied to earnings, those will also see an increase. Youth wages are set to be reviewed, although no concrete details have been released.
Child benefit boosted by €20
Another welcome but small increase: the universal child benefit will rise by an extra €20 per quarter. The benefit varies depending on the child’s age; for example, the payment for children up to 5 years old will change from €230 to €249. However, as this benefit is paid quarterly, parents will not see this increase until October.
Reduction in VAT on energy bills
From the beginning of 2021 to the first three months of 2022, energy bills in the Netherlands have increased by an average of 20% according to findings by ABN AMRO. This has been a trend across Europe and North America. In the spring, the government announced that VAT on energy bills will be reduced from 21% to 9%, potentially saving households hundreds of euros. This reduction will be in place until the end of the year at least.
The rent paid by people living in social housing will now be increased by a maximum 2.3%. Every July, private landlords are allowed to increase their rates, this year by up to 3.3%. For those in social housing, payments had been frozen due to the effects of the pandemic. This measure is now expired, so that tenants may see their rents rise by €100, depending on their household income.
Pension payments rise
For the first time in over a decade, workers in certain sectors will see an increase in their pension payments. The ABP civil servants fund, the largest pension fund in the Netherlands, offers a rise of 2.8%, while those receiving pensions from the Metal Fund PME will see a rise of 1.3%.
Small businesses get their money quicker
Small businesses and entrepreneurs (SME) can now expect to receive payment for services and goods from large companies within 30 days of invoice. Previously, statutory rules stated payments had to be made within 60 days, but SMEs complained that large companies were regularly going over that deadline, causing financial issues for smaller companies. The government has also set up a hotline, where SMEs can report failed payments anonymously to the Reporting Center Overdue Payments of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets. This hotline will remain active until January 2023.
Influencers face more advertising restrictions
Previously exempt from the Media Act, which regulates commercial and political advertising, vloggers and social media influencers with more than 500,000 followers will now have to follow the provisions as set out in the law. There are various new restrictions TikTokers and Instagrammers will need to follow and the move is seen largely as a way of protecting younger viewers. Influencers will no longer be able to extensively promote toys in sponsored videos targeted explicitly at children, including the highly popular YouTube genre of ‘unboxing’ videos. There is an outright ban on the promotion of medical products. Videos concerning news and political information are no longer allowed to be sponsored by external sources.
Tracking your tractor
Introduced on 1 January, some types of tractors and other agricultural vehicles driven on public roads must have a registration number. Much like with the prohibition of scooters on certain bike paths in Amsterdam, the government allowed a leniency period during which no fines were issued. This period ended on 1 July and drivers without valid registration can expect a fine of up to €380. These impositions come amid the increasing tension between farmers and the state, following the government’s plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by 70% in many areas.
Compulsory smoke detectors
It is now mandatory for every residential building to have a smoke detector installed on each floor, with the government recommending detectors that last at least 10 years. This law has been in place for newly-built homes since 2003 and this policy now brings homes built before that date in line with existing regulations.
No more ‘Sorry I Missed You’ notes
Say goodbye to that sinking feeling as you open your door to find not the parcel you’ve been desperately waiting for, but a little scrap of PostNL paper explaining where you can pick your delivery. Well, no more, because PostNL is going paperless and these messages will now be sent directly via email. The company claims this will save approximately 70,000kg of paper each year. You must set up an account with PostNL, so make sure you do so if you want to keep track of your parcels.
New log book guidance for real estate
Real estate agents must now use automatic bid log books when selling homes, in a move the government argues will make the house buying process more transparent. This new system will automatically generate details about all bids, such as the date, the amount, conditions (subject to financing etc.) and the rules of the bidding process itself. If prospective buyers have any questions about the bidding process, they can now request an anonymized version of the log book to verify it.
Tobacco shops face anti-smoking restrictions
Seen as a further attempt to discourage smoking, the government has implemented new legislation for the presentation and advertising of specialty tobacconists, aiming to replicate the restrictions found in supermarkets and other stores. While these shops can advertise products within the premises, these adverts may not be seen from the street through windows or even an open door. The shop branding may not be ‘conspicuous’ and cannot contain things like neon lights. They need to be boring, basically.
Improved car safety features
According to an EU-wide law that came into force on 6 July, all newly-built cars must be equipped with a series of new safety hardware. These include Intelligent Speed Assistant and Event Data Recorder, as well as upgrades to existing components such as seatbelts, parking sensors and emergency brake systems.
It may come as a surprise that libraries are not free in the Netherlands (for example, an adult membership for Amsterdam Central Library is €37.50), and libraries were allowed to charge up to half the adult price for children as well. While many libraries allowed children to use their services for free, it is now law for libraries to offer free membership for under-17s. Get reading kids!
Is it white, brown or wholegrain?
Ever stood in the bakery section of a supermarket utterly confused at what the hell this type of bread is? As of this July the government has placed stricter restrictions on the names of breads, in order to stop the use of ‘misleading’ names. The new Flour and Bread Commodities Act forces companies to have labels stating clearly what grain was used to make each particular loaf. Good news for easily-tricked wholegrain lovers everywhere.
Written by James Turrell