Employees with attachment of earnings

If an employee experiences financial difficulties, an attachment may be imposed on their income. This procedure is called attachment of earnings.

Around 80% of all employers in the Netherlands have been faced with attachment of earnings at some point. In this case, employers are required to pay part of their employee's income to the bailiff. We will explain briefly how you should act in this case. As soon as your employee fails to meet their financial obligations, the bailiff can apply to the court for an attachment of earnings. If the court approves this measure, you as the employer will be required to pay part of the employee's income to the bailiff. This amount involves the part of the income that exceeds the amount which is free from attachment (attachment threshold). The bailiff will request the employee's data from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) and approach you.

What will happen next?

1. The bailiff issues the official record of the attachment by garnishment and the third-party statement to the employer. This attachment can also be effected by a collection officer, who needs no court or court bailiff. Organisations that can directly approach the employer in case of an employee's payment arrears are:

  • Government, municipality or Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (overdue levies)
  • Central Judicial Collection Agency (Centraal Justitieel Incassobureau) (unpaid fines)
  • Education Executive Agency (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) (student loans not repaid)
  • Social Insurance Bank (reclaiming of excess benefit payments)
  • National Maintenance Collection Agency (Landelijk Bureau Inning Onderhoudsbijdragen) (unpaid spousal and/or child maintenance).

2. The employer informs the employee in writing about the attachment of earnings imposed and the consequences (not obligatory). The bailiff also informs the employee, within eight days after the attachment.

3. From the time when the official record of the attachment by garnishment is issued, the employer has a period of four weeks to complete the third-party statement and return it to the bailiff. The bailiff can confirm receipt of the third-party statement to the employer, stating the attachment threshold (with any adjustments) and the amount of the claim outstanding. The employer can inform the employee of this fact (not obligatory).

4. In case of a prejudgment attachment (* in practice, a prejudgment attachment is an attachment imposed ahead of or during legal proceedings), the employer is required to reserve the amount of earnings that exceeds the attachment threshold (pending the judgment).

5. In case of an attachment in execution (* an attachment in execution is imposed if the legal proceedings have been completed and the counterparty is still not willing to pay), the employer withholds from each salary payment the salary exceeding the attachment threshold (with any adjustments) and remits it to the bailiff until the claim has been paid. The attachment also applies to the full holiday allowance, profit distribution, overtime payments and similar payments. However, the attachment of earnings does not include real expense allowances, such as travel expenses.

6. If the bailiff has not stated an attachment threshold in the official record of the attachment by garnishment, the employer can itself calculate the attachment threshold or request the bailiff to do so. It is not permitted in this case simply to pay the entire wages to the employee.

7. The employer can at any time request an overview of the claim still outstanding from the bailiff.

8. In addition, the employer can assist the employee by bringing debt counselling procedures to their attention; for instance, at the local credit bank.

9. The employer can also proceed to pay the entire claim as a lump sum to the bailiff. However, it is important to put in place sound repayment arrangements with the employee, because the payment by the employer will otherwise be seen as a payment of taxable wages to the employee which is subject to payment of payroll tax and social security contributions.

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