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How Collective Bargaining benefits footballers: the new Dutch football CBA

Netherlands Football Team Socks and boots
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 By Eva Traag

The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for contracted players in Dutch professional football came into force on the 1 July 2014.1 The CBA lays down a number of terms and conditions of employment as well as general rules concerning the work situation, such as paid leave during sickness and rules on the loaning of players.


What is a CBA?

The unions that represent employees and the organisations that represent employers (also know as the ‘social partners’) play an important part in the development of terms and conditions of employment that contributes to balanced negotiations between employers and employees at individual level.

A CBA is the result of collective bargaining between the social partners, both at employer and employee level, and can be agreed at industry, sectorial or company level. It usually contains collective terms and conditions of employment, arrangements concerning the settlement of disputes between the parties to the CBA and agreements and rules concerning the relations and contact between the parties to the CBA.

It is often used by the social partners as an instrument to supplement legislation in the field of labour law and to a large degree CBA’s come in place of individual arrangements. For instance, the social partners can make arrangements concerning salary, continued pay during sickness or paid holiday that exceed the legal minimum.2

The provisions of a CBA supersede the conflicting provisions of an individual employment agreement when the employer and employee fall under the scope of and are bound by the CBA. This means that when an employer and an employee agree upon terms and conditions in the employment contract that are less favourable (for the employee) than those laid down in the applicable CBA, these are replaced by rule of law by the arrangements made in the CBA.


The new Dutch CBA

The parties to the new CBA for contracted players in professional football are the VVCS and ProProf, the unions that represent the players, and FBO, the employers’ organisation that represents the clubs.

The negotiations started in March 2014. On 2 April 2014 the parties reached an agreement, which the clubs and the players accepted on 15 and 17 May 2014 in form of the new CBA. The CBA came into effect from 1 July 2014 and will run until 1 July 2018.

The CBA applies to the employment relationship of (1) clubs that possess legal personality and who are members of the FBO and admitted to the men’s competitions of the division for Dutch association football of the KNVB (Royal Netherlands Football Association) and (2) players with the aforementioned clubs who are registered with the division for Dutch association football of the KNVB. All clubs in Dutch professional football are members of the FBO.

The CBA regulates important terms and conditions of employment for the players. For instance, the CBA guarantees players a 100 % continued pay (under conditions) during sickness and it introduces a collective revalidation insurance with a maximum coverage of €175,000 – in addition to the arrangements for a collective accident insurance. The CBA also lays down rules on a pension plan for the players, rules on training and additional education (focusing on the lives of players after their career in professional football has ended). The CBA only covers the employment aspect of the relationship between clubs and players, not commercial aspects, such as image rights.

The CBA is a minimum CBA; this means that clubs and players are free to agree upon terms and conditions that are more favourable for the players as long as the minimum standards laid down in the CBA have been met.

In addition to the provisions concerning the terms and conditions of employment, the CBA contains provisions concerning the general work situation of players, such as a prohibition against the practice of ‘match-fixing’, a system for disciplinary measures, rules on the hiring out of players and a transitional regulation for clubs transferring from the Topklasse (highest amateur division) to the First Division (second level professional division) regarding the minimum of sixteen fulltime contracted players.

In the Annex to the CBA, a standard employment contract is included, the content of which the clubs and players must include in the employment agreement.

The Dutch CBA for contracted players in professional football is rather unique as it offers players income protection for when they become injured and unfit for work. Not many countries offer a similar guarantee at a collective level and players generally need to take care of an insurance policy for continued pay in the case of disablement on an individual level. Players depend greatly on their physical condition to perform, but put their condition at risk in the performance of their work. Therefore, arrangements for continued pay (whether on individual or collective level) are crucial for players.

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Written by

Eva Traag

Eva Traag

Eva Traag is a lawyer for Dirkzwager Advocaten & Notarissen in Arnhem, The Netherlands. She is specialised in labour law.

Tel: +31 (0)26 353 83 03

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