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Netherlands/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.6 Labour laws

Collective bargaining agreements

There are many collective bargaining agreements [collective arbeidsovereenkomst, or CAO] in the performing arts, and more generally in the cultural sector.

CAOs are labour agreements between employers and employees. This means that a CAO only applies to employees who are working with an employer. When this is not the case, the national legal agreements are enforced. The existing CAOs are mostly found in architecture, arts education, media (broadcasting, journalism, publishing houses), museums and exhibition halls, performing arts (dance, orchestras, theatre companies, and venues), public libraries, retail musical instruments and sheet music. Special trade unions exist to enforce or monitor these agreements. In 2012, CAO-determined wages rose on average by 1.6%.

Almost all art and cultural labour areas are organised in the Culture Federation [Federatie Cultuur], an umbrella employers' organisation which monitors the results of annual collective bargaining between the large Dutch unions, central government and the employers' organisations, with respect to work and related conditions.


In 2014, 37% of all Dutch people are involved in volunteer work in the Netherlands of which 3% in the field of culture (Bekkers et al. 2015). Volunteering plays an important role in the cultural sector. There is no special legislation for volunteer efforts, but there is a National Expenses Arrangement [Landelijke Regeling Onkostenvergoeding Vrijwilligers]which stipulates a maximum tax-free reimbursement of expenses of 1 500 EUR a year (see also chapter 5.1.5).

See also comparative information provided in the Compendium "Themes!" section under "Status of Artists".

Chapter published: 13-03-2017

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