Wages in labour law

Published by: Sebastian van den Brink posted on 26 April 2021 reading time

Which wages are paid? Which wage components count? Sometimes it is clear, but the answers are not always obvious. Employers, or their HR or payroll department, will often keep a sharp eye on what types of pay are distinguished in employment law. It can be decisive what type of wage is being talked about. This article is the first in a series on the concept of wages in employment law.

Wages in case of an employment contract

One of the requirements for an employment contract is that the employee receives wages. It is therefore essential to keep a sharp eye on when wages are paid, thus establishing an employment contract. Especially when it comes to volunteers, ZZP' ers or management agreements, it is undesirable to be unexpectedly confronted with an employment contract (and all the consequences thereof).

This wage concept is essential in labour law to determine whether an employment contract has been concluded (also known as the qualification question).


Case law has decided that wages are the remuneration of the employer to the employee, which is due under the employment contract in exchange for the stipulated work. This compensation is not limited to a sum of money, but can also include meals and accommodation. The form and name of this compensation are not decisive. What matters is that the employer gives something to the employee in exchange for the employee's stipulated work.

No salary?

What is in any case not included in this definition of salary? One-time bonuses or gratuities do not fall under the definition of wages. These payments are not mandatory and therefore not in "exchange" for the stipulated work. Expense reimbursements that serve to cover the costs incurred by the employee or volunteer, such as travel expenses, also do not fall under the definition of wages. If this expense allowance is higher than the actual costs, this excessive part can be considered as salary.

Another special component within the wage concept is tips received by employees from customers. This is particularly relevant within the hospitality sector, but tips are given in more sectors by kind customers. This is also the essence of a tip. They are given by customers to employees and not by the employer itself. As a result, there can be no question of wages.


Wages or no wages. When payments are made each month, it may be worthwhile to review the situation. After all, nothing is as annoying as undesirable consequences of good intentions that could have been prevented.

Do you have further questions about your employees' wages or your own wages? Please feel free to contact our labour law specialists if you have any questions about wages in labour law.