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I got a new job that will start on October 1st (2016), which is a Saturday. I want to ask the HR if Saturdays and Sundays are holidays, but I am kind of shy. The firm in the Netherlands.

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    what type of firm/position is it? Is it open almost everyday of the year? is it an office position, or 3rd shift at a hospital? – mhoran_psprep Sep 18 '16 at 11:41
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    Presumably they sent you terms and conditions of the job before you agreed it? What did that say about your usual working hours? – Martin Smith Sep 18 '16 at 14:40
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    It would be highly unusual for a first day to be on a Saturday in the Netherlands unless you are working in the hospitality industry or some other 24x7 industry (healthcare, oil & gas, logistics, etc). – Eric Sep 18 '16 at 19:49
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    You're overthinking this. Just ask them. – David Richerby Sep 19 '16 at 10:53
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    I am kind of shy is not getting you anywhere. You have a factual question, ask it directly. It's no use asking it here, we don't know the company. Voting to close as company-specific. – user8036 Sep 19 '16 at 11:49
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Normally you should be told where and when you are supposed to turn up for the first time - often it is a bit later than the normal starting time, because they want managers, team leader etc. ready for you when you arrive. And sometimes companies don't want you to come to your workplace first, but for example to a reception where you can be given name tags, security cards, keys, whatever you need. Just call HR and say:

Hello, my official starting date is the first of October, but that is a Saturday. Could you tell me when I should be there for my first day at work, and where I should go?

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    This is probably the most reasonable answer. It can also be phrased in various ways depending on the workplace culture, but the big thing is probably to give the employer the opportunity to say either "we want you to show up at the office on Oct 1" or "we want you to show up at the office on the morning of the first work day, so that means Oct 3 at 8:00 sharp". If you feel awkward about calling them and asking, maybe an e-mail to the person who will be your immediate team lead or boss, or to HR, might feel less awkward, while getting you the same information? – a CVn Sep 18 '16 at 19:37
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    This is the best answer, since this is a reasonable and necessary question. If OP doesn't even know what day to show up, they almost certainly don't know the time or location either! – Kat Sep 18 '16 at 20:19
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    I was a conscript starting Fri Jul 1st, 2005, and received a letter stating that I had to be at the barracks on Mon Jul 4th, at 1200 sharp. I was a student starting Apr 1st, 2006, and was notified by email that introductory class started Apr. 3rd, 9:15. My work contract started Nov 1st 2013, which was a public holiday followed by a weekend, so my boss told me that my first day is Nov. 4th, and that work starts 8 o'clock. So I can definitely second this answer. – Alexander Sep 19 '16 at 8:17
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    I was asked to start work at a new job on June 15, 2013 -- also a Saturday; it was written into the offer letter and everything. I emailed my supervisor-to-be and inquired about this, and he promptly responded, "oh sorry, make that June 17th", and sent along a revised offer letter. Although my anecdote takes place in the US, it shares a universal truism: people make mistakes! I went on to work for the company for three years, and my relationship with that supervisor was one of the best I've had across my job history (which started ca. 1997). – Doktor J Sep 19 '16 at 18:54
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Here's an answer to a slightly different question: "The starting date for my new job in the Netherlands is on the 1st of the month, which is a Saturday. Does that mean I have to come to work on a Saturday?" It's not the question you asked, but the cultural context is relevant enough that I think you should get this answer, too.

Your contract probably starts on the 1st of the month because Dutch agreements for office work are normally measured in calendar months: you sign a contract for x months, and you get paid near the end of every calendar month. Because of this, it is common to choose 'the 1st of [month]' as a starting date for a contract, even when that is a weekend day or a day you would not normally work (if you work less than 5 days a week). It's just a really nice date to work with, and avoids the need for handling a first month that is partial. Makes it easy to remember when your contract is about to end, too.

So, that's how you get contracts that start on Saturday-the-1sts. (Or on a Monday-the-1st when you work 32h Tue-Fri -- similar situation.) Whether your first working day will also be that Saturday depends on what sort of job it is, and what sort of employer. Send them an e-mail and ask; for how to write such an e-mail, see the answers that do deal with 'how to ask if it is a holiday'. :-)

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    (+1) Excellent point! In 2016, I had a contract starting on January 1st but my first working day was the 4th. – Relaxed Sep 19 '16 at 11:49
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Hello < name >, could you please tell me which days of the week are working days for < department name > at < company name >?

This should do. If they tell you that Saturday is a holiday, then you could ask if you are expected to come to work on October 1st. If it was a mistake, they would tell you the correct joining date.

If Saturday is a working day, you won't create an awkward situation if you ask a question as above, as against something like, "My joining date is October 1st, but I thought Saturday is a holiday."

There is also the possibility the company prefers doing the joining formalities on a non-working day, in which case, I expect they would explain that to you.

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    The form of words you suggest doesn't work at all. It's perfectly possible that, for example, the department is open 24/7 but each employee is only expected to work five eight-hour shifts. Don't ask when the department works; ask when you work. – David Richerby Sep 19 '16 at 10:40
  • @David The question was meant to be an ice-breaker of some sort, because OP did say he was "shy". The OP is not restricted to one question. If the department is open 24/7, the OP can continue the conversation to elicit specific information. Also, if you ask when you work, and the HR says, "Your shift timings are 9 to 5, Monday to Friday", you still haven't got the answer to "Should I come to work on October 1st?" – Masked Man Sep 19 '16 at 10:48
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Bit of background, which isn't directly relevant to you (yet): In Dutch law, resignations are by default per the end of the month.

This also means that HR is very used to new contracts that start per the first of each month. It means new employees are not even a day unemployed, and immediately are covered under a number of insurance policies (e.g. disability). Usually, another day can be arranged if you ask HR and have good reason (e.g. for new employees straight out of school, two weeks extra salary for starting halfway a month would be a good reason)

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Something I really liked about being in the Netherlands is that the Dutch tend to be very direct and straight forward. There would be nothing wrong with just asking them about holidays.

Having said that, I also understand that you want to make a good impression before you start.

You may want to send an email like... "hello, I would just like to confirm the date and time I should arrive for the first day?" It avoids the issue of asking about holidays and makes it more about wanting to turn up at the right place.

As a side note, it's normal for jobs to have Saturday and Sunday off in the Netherlands. This might change for jobs such as hotels, bar work, etc... but if you're working in an office for instance then you'll almost certainly be starting on a Monday.

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    If you're doing Operations Support for Booking.com, you could expect the occasional Saturday or Sunday shift - it's the kind of website where a weekend outage is probably worse than a weekday outage. But developers aren't even allowed to think about production servers on Fridays ;) – MSalters Sep 19 '16 at 0:16
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    Such an email risks an answer like "Please turn up in Reception at 8:30", without mentioning which day that is. – TonyK Sep 19 '16 at 9:30
  • @TonyK true. The idea was more to emphasise the "when do I start" rather than the "is it a holiday" will edit... :) – Fogmeister Sep 19 '16 at 9:48
  • I removed your example of a specific company (subject to the edit being accepted). There's no need to give an example of a company that has offices because it's such a common situation. On the contrary, giving a specific company as an example for such a general and common situation makes it look like that company would be exceptional in some way. (And, honestly, when a new user mentions a company apropos of nothing at all, it looks a lot like an ad.) – David Richerby Sep 19 '16 at 10:43
  • @DavidRicherby I only mentioned them because they are the biggest employer in Amsterdam and the biggest employer of overseas employees. I did it as more of a guess than anything. Fair enough though :-) – Fogmeister Sep 19 '16 at 10:46
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The answer of why your contract states the 1st of the month while that day being part of the weekend has already been given. However, as a Dutch person, I'd like to add some cultural perspective that might help understand the situation.

For most types of jobs the days of the week one is expected to work at is relatively consistent. Office jobs are mostly on weekdays only, and emergency services and the hospitality sector also expect you to work weekends. This may help you to assert the situation in your case.

As mentioned before, we are a very open and direct people, and asking for clarification of a certain situation is considered to be acceptable and not disrespectful in the least. In fact, I would go as far as saying that most people may actually appreciate this, as it indicates you want to be sure of something, and honesty and certainty are common values for conversations in Dutch culture. You'd get along just fine.

Good luck with the new job, and enjoy the experience!

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Will you be paid monthly? If the month starts on a Saturday but you only work Monday-Friday, would you be happy if your first cheque was for 29/31 of a nonth?

But just call HR and ask when (and where) they want you to turn up. What's the big problem?

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    OP did mention being "kind of shy", which can be a real and very big problem. – AndrejaKo Sep 18 '16 at 18:46
  • @AndrejaKo The answer does make sense because it's often much less than 29/31th of a month if you don't start on the first day of the month so it may actually be very decent of them to make him officially start on a saturday. – Pierre Arlaud Sep 19 '16 at 9:17
  • That kind of shy is something he needs to get over right now. There is no reason not to ask this. If he is so shy he can't ask this, then he is too shy to be working. There are many much more difficult issues that need to be brought up in the workplace. If he can't do this, he can't be successful in any job and he needs treatment for that shyness because it is debilitating. – HLGEM Sep 19 '16 at 19:30
  • @HLGEM And that is why I made my comment. It is a big problem, for people who have it and it is something that needs to be solved, or it will impact the work performance. – AndrejaKo Sep 20 '16 at 9:00
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01/10/2016 is a saturday, so your contract starts on a saturday. Unless the company is open for business on saturdays, your actual work week is monday to friday and you're expected to show up on the 3rd.
I've NEVER had a job where I didn't get a letter or email telling when and where to report on my first day, and what person to ask for at the reception desk to handle my induction in the company (access cards, desk and equipment assignment, things like that).
If you've not had such a letter or email, contact the company and ASK.

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