The Netherlands scoring the 1st place worldwide in work-life balance is no surprise if you notice all the benefits employees have in the work place. One of these benefits are the mandatory holidays and all the different types of work leaves available for employees.

In this page, we will explain different types of work leaves, their use and how to apply for them.

1. Holiday leave

Employees in the Netherlands are given the bare minimum of vacation days required by law, which equates to four times their normal weekly working hours. The number of leave hours is computed in accordance for part-time employees. Employees who work full-time are entitled to at least 4 weeks of paid annual leave, or 20 vacation days. With the exception of the 10 Dutch national holidays, employers often provide up to 25 days annually. Some other companies offer more than the minimum and this can amount to 32 days or even 60 days per year.

The amount of holidays offered by the employer will be shown in the employment contract and will be accumulated automatically weekly or monthly.

Dutch national holidays are not to be confused with personal holiday leave. The official Dutch national holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • King’s Day
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Sunday
  • Whit Monday

  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

From the first day of work, employees can begin accruing vacation time. In the year that the right to these holidays is acquired, vacation time should be utilized as much as possible. In accordance with the Dutch Civil Code, unused vacation days are paid upon termination of employment. At the time of employment termination, any unused vacation days will be taken out of the employee’s pay or final settlement.

The employer must continue to pay the employee’s salary over the holidays. Additionally, the worker is entitled to a holiday allowance, which is a minimum addition of 8% to the annual salary. The employee receives their holiday allowance in May or June or if both the employer and the employee agree, it may be paid on a monthly basis.

2. Sick leave

All workers have fundamental sick leave rights that are protected by law. The sick leave scheme enables the employee to take personal sick time and earn remuneration. The company is required to pay at least 70% of the employee’s most recent earned salary. Some companies even offer to pay the whole salary.

If you are employed in the Netherlands and become ill on a working day, you must notify your employer so you can request sick time.

Most businesses have a systematic protocol for reporting illness, which often include contacting your manager or someone from the HR department by phone, message, or email.

It is possible to have such days considered as (paid) sick leave rather than holiday leave if you notify your employer in advance and are unwell while on vacation.

The employer may submit a claim for pay compensation benefits at the Employee Insurance Agency if an employee becomes unwell (UWV). The company may keep paying the employee’s salary while redeeming the benefits; this is known as a “no-risk policy.”

3. Maternity, Paternity and parental leave

Maternity leave

You have a legal right to at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if you work in the Netherlands and get pregnant.

Maternity leave for expectant women begins four to six weeks before the due date. The maternity allowance provides financial support for the 10–12 weeks leading up to and after the childbirth (zwangerschapsuitkering). If the mother dies during childbirth then the partner may have access to the maternity leave instead.

You have the option to take full- or part-time parental leave when your maternity leave is up, after consulting with your employer, or to go back to work.

Paternity leave

When the employee’s spouse delivers birth, the employee is entitled to paternity leave. Within the first four weeks after the child’s birth, the employee has the right to seek 1 week of paid leave. When an employee takes this absence, the company is expected to cover their whole wage.
Fathers and partners may also choose to take (often unpaid) extended parental leave or (paid) holiday leave following the birth of their kid in order to spend more time with their newborn. Mothers’ partners will be eligible for an additional 5 weeks of aanvullend geboorteverlof beginning on July 1, 2020.

Parental leave

If an employee is the legal parent or primary caregiver of a kid throughout the first eight years of the child’s life, they are entitled to 26 weeks of paternity leave. The employee must be given this leave by the employer, which is required. Parental leave is typically unpaid, however the company may cover a part of the cost.
There are several ways in which the 26 weeks of paternity leave can be distributed, and the employee and the employer must agree on how this leave can be set up.

Care leave

Employees in the Netherlands have access to care leave to take care of and assist a sick member of their immediate family or home. The employee must be the ONLY person who can offer the care that the ill person needs in order for this leave to go into effect. Care leave is not applicable if the ill individual is receiving treatment in a hospital since the hospital is the source of such care. If the employee wants to use this leave, a certification from a licensed health care provider must be given. 2015 saw the addition of leave to care for friends, acquaintances, and members of the extended family (such as siblings or grandparents) (such as a housemate, neighbor or friend).

Employees are allowed to take a short-term care leave that is equivalent to double their normal number of working hours in a 12-month period. The employer is required to cover at least 70% of their wages during this period.

5. Emergency and special leave

Emergency leave

In the Netherlands, employers are obligated to authorize emergency leaves and continue paying wages. When appropriate, short-term leave is also an option. This leave of absence may be used in the event of unanticipated personal events such an accident, sickness, the loss of a family member, etc.

Special leave

The employment contract between the employee and the employer should include this leave right even if it is not required by law. If an absence is required during working hours, it’s critical that the employer recognize this right and provide workers access to leave if they encounter similar circumstances. Examples for this type of leave can be: Doctor’s appointment, attending a marriage, moving to a new house, etc.