Netherlands: Dos and Don’ts: Best practice when dealing with a visit by the Dutch Labour Inspectorate
The Dutch Labour Inspectorate (Inspectie SZW) can visit a workplace without prior notice, to ensure that employers comply with the law and that everything taking place at a workplace is legally compliant.
The Labour Inspectorate has supervising powers in regard to specific employment legislation (see Further Resources below) including inspecting and taking copies of documents; taking recordings; photographs and samples; and taking possession of and/or carrying out tests on articles and substances that present a risk.
More information on the specific powers of the Inspectorate appears below along with our ‘dos and don’ts’ of how to deal with an inspection.
Legally, the Dutch Labour Inspectorate has the right to:
- Enter any work premises at a reasonable time and without any previous notice (with the exception of private homes), if necessary with the help of the police;
- Take measurements, photographs, recordings and samples;
- Take possession of, and carry out tests on, articles and substances that appear to have caused (or be likely to cause) danger;
- Require the production of, inspecting and taking copies of documents;
- Require anyone they think might give them relevant information to answer questions and sign a declaration to attest to the truth of the answers;
- Request inspection of ID;
- Inspect goods and remove them (temporarily); and,
- Inspect transport vehicles and cargo.
Dos and don’ts for dealing with a Dutch Labour Inspectorate visit
As part of an investigation, Inspectors can obtain witness evidence from relevant people in and outside the organisation, including staff, by various means. This could be through casually talking to employees or, more formally, by interviewing one of the representatives of the company.
During this process, the following ‘dos’ are to be kept in mind:
- DO: Answer the questions of the Labour Inspector. Only the managing director of the company is allowed to refuse to answer any questions once it is clear that the Labour Inspector will impose a penalty for breaching one or more of the applicable legislations.
- DO: Record the interview with the Labour Inspector either by note-taking or an audio recording. This will ensure that you can check at a later date whether the Labour Inspector’s report accurately reflects your evidence . If you are not able to record the interview, you should take detailed notes for yourself immediately after the interview.
We encourage you to keep this ‘don’t’ in mind:
- DON’T: employers should not forget that everything said to a Labour Inspector is admissible in court, no comments are “off the record”. Don’t offer more information beyond what they ask for, as this could be used against you.
The current employment legislation giving powers ot the Labour Inspector is:
- The Act on Minimum Wages (Wet Minimumloon)
- The Act on Foreign Workers (Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen)
- The Health and Safety Act (Arbeidsomstandighedenwet)
- The Act on Working Times (Arbeidstijdenwet)
- The Act on Hiring Agency Workers (Wet Waadi)
- The Act on Posted Workers from the EU (WagWeu).