Dutch employment law is primarily regulated by the Dutch Civil Code (DCC). Apart from the DCC, there are general rules laid down in the Dutch Constitution and in a wide range of specific employment laws including the Works Councils Act, the Working Conditions Act, the Collective Dismissal Act, the Collective Bargaining Agreement Act, the Minimum Wages and Minimum Vacation Compensation Act and the Equal Treatment Act.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Full-time employment usually ranges from 36 to 38 hours per week. Under the Working Hours Act, the maximum workday is 12 hours and the maximum workweek is 60 hours. An employee may not work the maximum number of hours every week. The working hours are as follows:
- Per week during a 4-week period: on average 55 hours per week during a period of 4 weeks; deviating agreements on this can be made in a collective arrangement. But an employee may never work more than 60 hours per week;
- Per week during a 16-week period: on average 48 hours per week during a 16-week period. The employee and employer can make agreements on what exact hours the employee works per day and per week.
Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8
An employer has to pay at least the minimum wage applicable to the employee for overtime work. As an alternative to payment of minimum wages for overtime work, employers can compensate the employees in the form of paid leave for their overtime, which should be stated in the CBA or a written agreement between the employer and employee.
The night shift is considered work performed for longer than an hour between midnight and 6:00 a.m. For night shift workers, the restrictions are tighter: the maximum night shift is 10 hours, and the average workweek cannot exceed 40 hours over a 16-week period. If the employee only works a night shift occasionally (less than 16 times in 16 weeks), the same applies as for day shifts: on average 48 hours of work per week. After a night shift, a worker’s next shift must start at least 14 hours later, and if an employee works a series of three or more night shifts, the next shift cannot start for at least 46 hours. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended).
If a night shift ends after 2 am, this must be followed by a minimum of 14 hours of non-work time. This may be shortened to 8 hours a maximum of once per week. If a night shift ends before 2 am, just as for day shifts this must be followed by 11 consecutive hours of non-work time.
A maximum of 5 times per two weeks and 22 times per year an employee may work a 12-hour night shift. After a 12-hour night shift, he must have at least 12 hours of non-work time. After a series of 3 or more night shifts, an employee must have at least 46 hours of non-work time. If the last night shift ends on Tuesday morning at 6 am, for instance, the employee may not resume work until Thursday at 4 am.
An employee may work a maximum of 36-night shifts in a 16-week period. An employee may not work more than 7 consecutive shifts if one of these shifts is a night shift. This may be extended to 8 if agreed as such in a collective arrangement. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
Employees are entitled to a 30minute break after working five and a half hours and a 45minute break after working for more than 10 hours. Both breaks may be split into increments of 15 minutes. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
After a working day, an employee must have 11 consecutive hours of non-work time. This rest period may be shortened to 8 hours once in a 7-day period if the nature of the work or the business circumstances require this.
In the event of a 5-day work week, an employee must have 36 consecutive hours of non-work time after the end of the workweek. A longer workweek is also possible, provided the employee has at least 72 consecutive hours of non-work time in a period of 14 days. This period may be split into two periods of at least 32 hours each. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
An employee does not have to work on Sundays unless the employer and employee have made an agreement in this respect. An employee must have at least 13 free Sundays per year. A Collective bargaining agreement can reduce the number of free Sundays to less than 13. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
List of Holidays in the Netherlands:
- New Year’s Day
- Easter Day
- Easter Monday
- King’s Birthday
- Ascension Day
- Whit Sunday
- Whit Monday
- Christmas Day
- Second Day of Christmas/ St Stephen’s Day
Dutch law does not require employers to give workers national or public holidays off or to pay them extra if they work on those days, so employer policies on holiday leave are established by collective bargaining agreements or employment contracts.
Employees receive annual vacation leave of at least four times the number of days they regularly work each week. For example, an employee who works five full-time days a week receives 20 days—four weeks—of paid vacation each year.
Many collective bargaining agreements provide for more than the minimum vacation allowance, often 25 days. In addition, employees are paid a holiday allowance each year that amounts to 8 percent of their gross annual salary.
Unused leave can only be carried over for six months. Dutch Civil Code (as amended), arts. 7:634, 7:638; Minimum Wage and Minimum Holiday Allowance Act, 1968 (as amended), art. 15 (Dutch).
If a temporary or permanent employment contract is in effect and a worker becomes ill, up to two years of paid sick leave is provided at a minimum of 70 percent of the wages the employee last earned. Under the Gatekeeper Improvement Act, the employer and the employee are responsible for reintegrating the worker into the workplace following return to work. Dutch Civil Code (as amended), arts. 7:629.
Under the Work and Care Act, female employees are entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks’ pregnancy and maternity leave. Maternity leave can begin up to six weeks and should start no later than four weeks before the baby is due and can continue for at least 10 weeks after birth even if delivery is later than expected. Employees may return to work earlier if they like, but no sooner than 42 days after giving birth. The maternity pay rate is 100 percent of the employee’s most recently earned salary up to a maximum of 100 percent of the daily pay set by national social security legislation. The employer pays the salary and is reimbursed by the government. Employers cannot refuse a request for maternity leave. Working Time Act, 1995 (as amended), art. 4:8 (Dutch); Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended), art. 3:8 (Dutch).
Under the Work and Care Act, an employee whose wife or partner gives birth is entitled to 5 days of paid leave anytime within four weeks after the child has come home from the hospital. The employee can take emergency leave for the actual birth. Also, entitlement to supplementary partner leave of 5 weeks has been introduced effective January 1, 2019. This leave must be taken in the first 6 months after childbirth. During the leave period, employees will receive an allowance from the Labour Office which will be 70% of the maximum daily wage. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended), art. 4:2 (Dutch); Act Introducing Extra Birth Leave, 2018 (Dutch).
Employees get 10 days a year of leave compensated at up to 70 percent of salary under the Work and Care Act to care for a sick child, partner or parent. Employers may, however, have different rules under collective bargaining agreements. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended).
This type of leave—which is unpaid unless otherwise provided in the employer’s collective bargaining agreement —is granted when an employee must take care of a seriously ill child, partner or parent over an extended period. The employee must request leave two weeks in advance and is entitled over a 12-week span each year to up to half the number of hours he or she normally works. Employers can refuse to grant longterm compassionate leave if it would seriously disrupt company operations. Provisions in a collective bargaining agreement for longterm compassionate leave supersede the law. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended).
The Parental Leave Act of 1990 grants fulltime and parttime workers who have children or are raising children younger than age 8 unpaid parental leave. A collective labor agreement may provide for paid leave. A worker becomes eligible for parental leave only after having worked for an employer for one year. The maximum amount of leave per child is 26 times the employee’s working hours per week. An employee who works 40 hours per week, for example, would be eligible for 1,040 hours per year of parental leave per child—40 (hours) x 26(weeks). Parents usually take this leave by working half their normal hours but can make arrangements with an employer to take more hours in a shorter period or to spread the leave out over more than a year. An employer cannot refuse a request for parental leave. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended).
As of July 1, 2020, partners are entitled to additional birth leave after the birth of their child.
Effective August 21, 2022, the government plans to introduce paid parental leave. Under the government’s plans, parents will receive benefits from the Social Security Institution (UWV) during the first nine weeks of parental leave. The amount of the benefit will be 50% of the daily wage, up to a maximum of 50% of the statutory maximum daily wage. Paid parental leave must be taken in the child’s first year of life. The remaining 17 weeks of (unpaid) parental leave can be taken up until the child’s eighth birthday.
The Work and Care Act provides up to 6 weeks of leave for employees or the self employed involved in the adoption or fostering of a child. The UWV pays this benefit, not the employer. To qualify, an employee must have worked for his or her present employer for at least a year. Employees can take a maximum of four weeks of consecutive leave, beginning as early as two weeks before the adoption and ending no more than 16 weeks after the adoption. Leave can be taken by both parents. Employers are not allowed to refuse this type of leave. The adoption allowance remains available if an employee’s contract ends or the employee resigns or loses his or her job and adopts or fosters a child within 10 weeks of termination of employment. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended).
The employee may demand that the employer grants him leave, without preserving his right to wages during his absence, for attending the meetings of the First Chamber of the States-General (Parliament), the meetings of representing bodies of government authorities elected directly by the public, with the exemption, however, of the Second Chamber (House of Commons) of the States-General, and for attending the meetings of commissions formed by these representing bodies. This provision applies as well to the employee who is a member of the public body charged with the general management of a Water Authority.
Last updated on: July 2nd, 2020