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Netherlands Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off (PTO), Vacation Leave, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Parental Leave, Care Leave, Emergency Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, Voting Leave, and Special Leave

Table Of Contents

Paid Time Off (PTO) in Netherlands

Last updated on December 24, 2023.

Vacation Leave Quota

20 days (4 weeks) of fully paid vacation (vakantiedagen).

Dutch law requires that employers provide full-time employees with a minimum of 20 days of fully paid vacation (annual leave) per year. This legal minimum is determined by multiplying the number of weekly working days (or hours) by four. Therefore, based on a standard five-day working week, full-time employees are entitled to at least 20 days of paid leave (5×4). This legal minimum is called statutory annual leave, or wettelijke vakantiedagen in Dutch.

With this vacation entitlement, the Netherlands is similar to most European leave laws. More generous vacation entitlement is in the national policy of the United Kingdom, Denmark, and France.

Part-Time Employees

The calculation of paid annual leave for part-time employees follows the same principle: the number of their working days or hours per week is multiplied by four. For example, an employee working four days a week would be entitled to 16 days of annual leave, while an employee working 20 hours per week would have 80 hours of leave.

Non-Statutory Leave

A significant number of companies go above and beyond the legal minimum, typically offering 25 days of annual leave, and, in some cases, up to 30 days. These additional days are called non-statutory leave (bovenwettelijke vakantiedagen), and are sometimes mandated by the terms of an individual employment contract or collective labor agreement (Collectieve Arbeidsovereenkomst, CAO).

Taking Vacation

Employees may choose to use their leave either consecutively or divided into small portions. As a standard practice, the employer is obligated to permit employees to schedule a consecutive leave period between the dates of April 30th and October 1st, which can be either two consecutive weeks or split into two separate one-week durations.

Vacation Allowance (Vakantiegeld)

Employees receive their regular salary during annual leave. However, they also receive additional money in May, intended to cover the costs of their annual leave. The legal term for this is vakantiebijslag, or vacation allowance. This is often referred to as “vacation money” or a “holiday surcharge”. This amount of money equals 8% of the employee’s annual gross salary.

Side Notes

An employer may deny a leave request if there is a valid reason.

In addition to statutory vacation days, employees usually receive paid leave for Dutch public (bank) holidays.

Vacation time is also accrued during sick leave and maternity leave.

Carry Over

Unused vacation days can be carried over up to 6 months into the following year.

Statutory annual leave that is not used throughout the year can be carried over to the following year, but must be taken within the first 6 months. For example, any leftover annual leave from 2023 must be taken before July 1st, 2024, or it will expire.

Non-statutory leave typically expires in 5 years.

Payment of Accrued, Unused Vacation on Termination

An employer must pay accrued, unused vacation upon separation from employment.

Employees cannot opt to receive monetary compensation instead of their statutory annual leave, even if they request it. However, upon leaving the company, an employee is entitled to a payout for any unused vacation days accumulated in that given year. Subsequently, the new employer is legally bound to provide unpaid leave equivalent to the duration of the employee’s paid vacation days.

Payout

An employer pays regular wages to employees during their vacation.

Sick Leave in Netherlands

Unlimited leave. Up to 2 years, paid by the employer (at least 70% of the employee’s last earned salary). Any payments beyond this period are covered by the Employee Insurance Agency, UWV.

In the Netherlands, sick leave (ziekteverlof) is quite simple from the employee standpoint: regardless of the duration of their illness, they are guaranteed to receive at least 70% of their wage. If 70% of an employee’s wage is below the statutory minimum wage, the employee will instead receive the minimum wage during the first year of sick leave. It is up to the employer to supplement this amount. However, during the second year of leave, the employer is not obligated to do so.

From the employer’s standpoint: Employers are required to pay a minimum of 70% of an employee’s wages during the first two years of sick leave. If an employee’s illness extends beyond two years, sickness benefits will be provided by the Employee Insurance Agency, UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen).

However, most employers in the Netherlands pay 100% of an employee’s wages during their first year of sick leave. The exact amount is specified in the employment contract or collective agreement. A collective agreement can provide up to 100% of an employee’s wages for the first year of sickness, and 70% for the second year (that is to say, it may not exceed 170% for both years).

An employee is protected from dismissal while on sick leave, and must be reinstated to the same or a similar job position upon their return.

Unlike other countries where, for instance, a maximum of 5 sick days may be allowed, there is no upper limit to the duration of sick leave in the Netherlands. Sick leave continues for as long as an employee’s health condition requires.

Payout

Sick leave in the Netherlands is paid by the employer for the first two years and, after that, by the government.

Maternity, Paternity, Parental, and Adoption Leave

Maternity Leave in the Netherlands

16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave.

All female employees have the right to a minimum of 16 weeks (112 days) of paid maternity leave (zwangerschapsverlof). This includes both employees with fixed-term and indefinite-term contracts.

Maternity leave consists of two parts:

  • Pregnancy leave (prepartum) – 4 to 6 weeks before delivery date
  • Maternity leave (postpartum) – 10 to 12 weeks after childbirth

Expectant mothers can begin maternity leave 6 weeks before the expected delivery date, but no later than 4 weeks before the expected delivery date.

It’s prohibited for employers to require a pregnant employee to work:

  • within 4 weeks (28 days) before the expected delivery date, and
  • for 6 weeks (42 days) following the birth of the child.

In the case of twins or multiple births, maternity leave is extended by 4 weeks (20 weeks in total).

An employee continues to receive 100% of her regular wages during maternity leave. However, this maternity benefit is paid by The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV).

An employee is safeguarded against termination while on maternity leave. Upon the end of maternity leave, employees have the right to return to their previous job position.

For more detailed information and to apply for maternity benefits, employers can visit the official website of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV).

Paternity Leave in the Netherlands

5 days of paternity leave at full pay.

Fathers, including same-sex partners, are entitled to 5 days of paid paternity leave (geboorteverlof or partnerverlof). This leave must be taken within the first 4 weeks following the birth of the child. During this period, employees continue to receive their full salary.

Additionally, a father (or partner) is entitled to 5 more weeks of unpaid leave, which must be taken within the first six months after childbirth. This leave is not paid by the employer, but employees can claim benefits from the government, the Employment Insurance Agency (UWV). This benefit is 70% of their daily wage, but is capped at 70% of the maximum daily wage.

Parental Leave in the Netherlands

26 weeks of parental leave, of which 9 weeks are paid.

Employees can take up to 26 weeks of parental leave (ouderschapsverlof) until the child turns 8 years old.

Beginning in 2022, 9 weeks of parental leave became partially paid. This leave is also not employer-funded. Parental benefits are paid by UWV, which also administers maternity and paternity leave benefits. The payment goes up to 70% of the employee’s daily wage, capped at 70% of the maximum daily wage. However, this benefit can only be claimed until the child’s first birthday.

Adoption Leave in the Netherlands

6 weeks of paid leave.

Parents who are in the process of adopting a child are eligible for 6 weeks of paid leave. This entitlement applies to both parents, and they both receive benefits equivalent to those during maternity leave. This leave may begin up to 4 weeks before the date of adoption.

Employees welcoming a foster child into their home are also eligible for the same leave benefits as those offered during adoption leave.

Payout

All costs associated with maternity, paternity, parental, adoption, and foster leave are covered by the Dutch government.

Care Leave (Zorgverlof) in Netherlands

Short-Term Care Leave

The maximum duration of this leave is equivalent to twice the weekly work hours per year.

Eligible employees are entitled to take short-term care leave (kortdurend zorgverlof) in order to provide necessary care to close relatives or friends who are sick and need support. To qualify, the employee must be the ONLY person who can provide the necessary care. This type of leave is intended for the illness of the closest family members (a spouse, a parent, a child, etc.), but also for a grandchild, a grandparent, a partner, a friend, an acquaintance, or a neighbor.

Annually, employees are allowed a maximum amount of leave equivalent to twice the duration of their weekly working hours. For someone working a standard 40-hour week, it means that he/she is entitled to 80 hours of short-term care leave per year.

Payout

An employer is required to continue paying 70 percent of the employee’s regular wages during short-term care leave. If this amount is below the minimum wage, the employer will instead pay the minimum wage.

Long-Term Care Leave

The maximum duration of this leave is equivalent to six times the weekly working hours per year.

An employee has the right to request long-term care leave if a close family member (a spouse, a partner, a child, a parent, etc.) requires care due to a serious (life-threatening) illness. This request must be submitted 2 weeks in advance.

This leave is available for the duration of 6 times weekly working hours of the employee, per year. For someone working a standard 40-hour week, it means 240 hours of long-term care leave per year.

Payout

An employer is not required to pay any salary during long-term care leave.

Emergency Leave in Netherlands

For handling unexpected personal problems, it can last as long as necessary to resolve them.

Employees are entitled to take emergency leave to deal with unexpected personal events (often unpleasant) that require their immediate absence from work.

These events most commonly concern family issues, but are not limited to them, and may involve circumstances such as:

  • caring for a sick child
  • dealing with the death of a close family member or second-degree relative
  • household urgencies (for example, a water pipe burst)
  • dealing with a sudden personal injury or illness
  • other exceptional personal circumstances, or extraordinary events.

The duration of the emergency leave is not strictly determined; it lasts for as long as necessary to resolve an urgent personal problem. It can last from a few hours to a few days, depending on the circumstances. There is no defined limit to the number of hours of emergency leave an employee can take annually.

Although employees are allowed to take emergency leave without prior notice, they are required to notify their employer about the leave as soon as practicable, and also indicate the estimated duration of their absence.

An employer may not refuse a reasonable request for emergency leave if it is based on legitimate reasons.

Following the leave, an employer may demand proof confirming the necessity of the absence.

This type of leave is called calamiteitenverlof en kort verzuimverlof in Dutch, and it literally means calamity leave and short default leave.

Payout

An employer is required to pay the full salary to the employee who is on emergency leave.

Bereavement Leave in Netherlands

Considered a type of emergency leave or special/extraordinary leave.

In contrast to many other countries, Dutch legislation doesn’t categorize bereavement leave as a separate type of leave. Instead, employees who need time off due to bereavement have a valid reason to request emergency leave (see the section above). This can also fall under the classification of special/extraordinary leave.

Basically, emergency leave serves to handle the necessary matters straightaway, which can then transition into special leave for continued time off.

Jury Duty Leave in Netherlands

Jury duty leave is not specified by Dutch law.

Military Leave in Netherlands

Military leave is not specified by Dutch law.

Voting Leave in Netherlands

Considered a type of emergency leave.

Dutch legislation does not specifically classify voting leave as a distinct type of leave.

Employees who need time off to vote, because they can do so only during working hours, have the option to request emergency leave.

Special / Extraordinary Leave in Netherlands

This applies to events that are not covered by labor law.

Special or extraordinary leave is not explicitly stated in Dutch labor legislation. Instead, it is sometimes granted as part of an employment contract, a company policy, or a collective labor agreement.

This type of leave covers absences from work for the following reasons:

  • relocation/moving
  • attending one’s own wedding or the wedding of an immediate family member
  • bereavement purposes or time off to attend an immediate family member’s funeral
  • studying or exam purposes
  • doctor’s appointment

Public Holidays in the Netherlands

11 days of public holidays. However, granting leave for holidays is not mandatory for employers, unless specified in the employment contract or collective labor agreement.

In the Netherlands, there are 7 official public holidays per year, which last 11 days in total. The following holidays last more than one day:

  • Easter – 3 days
  • Whit Sunday and Monday – 2 days
  • Christmas – 2 days

Although Dutch employers are not legally required to provide their employees with a day off on public holidays or additional compensation for work on these days, these matters are often specified in collective labor agreements or individual employment contracts.

A complete list of official holidays celebrated in the Netherlands:
Date Holiday
January 1 New Year’s Day (Nieuwjaarsdag)
March 29 (Friday before Easter) Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag) *
March 31 Easter Sunday (Eerste Paasdag)
April 1 (The day after Easter Sunday) Easter Monday (Tweede Paasdag)
April 27 King’s Day (Koningsdag) **
May 5 Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) ***
May 9 (40 days after Easter) Ascension Day (Hemelvaartsdag)
May 19 (50th day after Easter) Whit Sunday (Eerste Pinksterdag)
May 20 (The day after Whit Sunday) Whit Monday (Tweede Pinksterdag)
December 25 Christmas Day (Eerste Kerstdag)
December 26 Boxing Day (Tweede Kerstdag)

* This is not a national holiday but is observed by many businesses, depending on the collective labor agreement.

** If the 27th falls on a Sunday, it is observed on April 26.

*** It is officially observed every five years, but many businesses observe it every year.

Additionally, in some provinces, the Carnival is celebrated, particularly in the Catholic areas in the south of the Netherlands, which might involve some closures. Saint Nicholas’ Eve (Sinterklaas) on December 5 is also widely celebrated, but it is not a public holiday.

Some employees may have the option to replace a Christian holiday with a holiday from a different religious tradition.

Sources

  1. The official page of the Government of the Netherlands (in English), https://www.government.nl/
  2. The official page of the Government of the Netherlands, Ministry of Social Affairs – Vacation Days, https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/vakantiedagen-en-vakantiegeld/vraag-en-antwoord/op-hoeveel-vakantiedagen-heb-ik-recht
  3. Business.gov.nl (The English-language Point of Single Contact (PSC) for resident and foreign entrepreneurs) – Holiday Entitlement, https://business.gov.nl/regulation/holiday-entitlement/
  4. National laws and labor standards in the Netherlands, https://wageindicator.org/documents/decentworkcheck/europe/netherlands-english.pdf
  5. Sick leave in the Netherlands: the easy guide [2023], https://dutchreview.com/expat/sick-leave-netherlands/
  6. Business.gov.nl (The English-language Point of Single Contact (PSC) for resident and foreign entrepreneurs) – Leave schemes, https://business.gov.nl/regulation/leave-schemes/
  7. My employee is pregnant – The official website of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), https://www.uwv.nl/werkgevers/werknemer-krijgt-kind/zwanger/werknemer-is-zwanger-wazo/detail/verlofperiode-zwangerschap
  8. Taking Paternity / Partner leave – The official website of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) (in English), https://www.government.nl/topics/parental-leave-for-partners/taking-paternity—partner-leave
  9. Applying for parental leave – The official website of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) (in English), https://www.government.nl/topics/parental-leave-for-partners/applying-for-parental-leave
  10. Applying for an adoption allowance – The official website of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) (in English), https://www.government.nl/topics/adoption/applying-for-an-adoption-allowance
  11. Applying for foster care benefit – The official website of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) (in English), https://www.government.nl/topics/foster-care/applying-for-foster-care-benefit
  12. Short-term and long-term care leave –  The official page of the Government of the Netherlands, https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/zorgverlof/vraag-en-antwoord/duur-zorgverlof
  13. Emergency Leave – The official page of the Government of the Netherlands, https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/calamiteitenverlof
  14. Special or Extraordinary Leave – The official page of the Government of the Netherlands, https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/arbeidsovereenkomst-en-cao/vraag-en-antwoord/wanneer-heb-ik-recht-op-bijzonder-of-buitengewoon-verlof
  15. Which days are official public holidays in the Netherlands? – The official page of the Government of the Netherlands (in English), https://www.government.nl/topics/working-hours/question-and-answer/public-holidays-in-the-netherlands

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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