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
Under the Working Hours Act, the maximum workday is 12 hours and the maximum workweek is 60 hours. An employee is not allowed to work 12 hours a day (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 shall keep a proper record of the working and rest times, which makes it possible to monitor compliance and the provisions based on it. An employer shall keep a record of the start and finish time as well as the break time of the employees. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 4.3.
Even if an employee is not at the workplace, he may be called on to go to work if unforeseen circumstances arise. This is referred to as ‘on-call duty’ in the Working Hours Act. In the event of on-call duty and standby duty, the hours during which an employee can be called are not considered working hours. If however an employee is called and must go to work, this time does count as working hours.
A call counts for at least a half-hour of working time, even if the employee only actually works for fifteen minutes. If an employee is called once again within a half-hour after he has finished his work following a call, the interim time also counts as working time.
- An employee may not work more than 13 hours per 24 hours, including the hours that arise from calls
- An employee may only be on-call-duty for a maximum of 14 days during a 4-week period.
- An employee must have at least 2 consecutive days in every 4-week period in which he is not working and also not on on-call duty.
- An employee may not be on on-call duty immediately before or immediately after a night shift. Employees may not be on on-call duty in the 11 hours preceding a night shift or during the 14 hours after a night shift.
- If an employee is on on-call duty between midnight and 6 am 16 times or more within a 16-week period, he may not work more than 40 hours per week on average during that 16-week period.
Employees may work an average of 45 hours per week during this 16-week period under the following conditions:
- An employee has 8 consecutive hours immediately after the last night call during which he is not working or on-call duty.
- If that is not possible, employees must in any event have 8 consecutive hours of rest on that same day (before midnight, therefore).
Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5.9
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 consecutive period.
Rest Between Shift
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.
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.
Increased Duration of Night Work
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 uninterrupted rest. 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. The employer shall organize the work in such a way that an employee in each period of:
- 52 consecutive weeks worked no more than 140 times in a night shift that ends after 2 a.m.
- 2 consecutive weeks, a maximum of 38 hours of work performed between midnight and 6 a.m.
Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
Employees are entitled to a 30 minute break after working five and a half hours and a 45 minute break after working for more than 10 hours. Both breaks may be split into increments of 15 minutes. A collective arrangement may include agreements on fewer breaks. But if the employee works for more than 5 ½ hours, he must at least have 15 minutes of break time. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
Daily Rest Period
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.
Weekly Rest Period
In a consecutive 7- day period, an employee must have 36 consecutive hours of non-work time. A longer workweek is also possible, provided the employee has at least 72 consecutive hours of non-work time in a consecutive 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 in a 52 weeks period. 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.
Following are 9 general observed public holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- King’s Day
- Liberation Day
- Ascension Day
- Pentecost (Whit Sunday and Whit Monday)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day/ St Stephen’s Day
Public holidays that fall on weekends are not moved to a weekday. 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.
An employee is entitled to, for each year in which he is entitled to wages over the full contracted working hours, vacation equal to 4 times the working hours performed per week or if such working hours is provided in hours per year, of at least an equivalent period.
Most of the establishments provide 20 days of vacation leave per year since a 5-day workweek is commonly followed. An employee who has been entitled to wages for just a part of the year is entitled to vacation in proportion to the holiday entitlements he would have earned if he would have been entitled to wages over the full working hours for the entire year.
For example, if an employee works for 25 hours a week throughout the year, he/she is entitled to 100 vacation hours per year. This allows an employee to take at least 4 weeks of vacation per year.
Pay – An employee is entitled to his/her usual wages during vacation and is generally paid an allowance equal to 8% of their gross salary for the year.
An employee who has holidays in excess of the minimum prescribed vacation can carry it forward to the next year. Dutch Civil Code (as amended), arts. 7:634, 7:638.
Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage is €1.684.80.
The minimum wage given above may not be up to date. Kindly access the link to see the current wage rate.
An employee who has becomes incapable to work, the employee is entitled to paid leave for a period of 104 weeks.
Pay – An employer shall pay at least 70% of the gross salary, on the condition that the base salary does not have to be taken into consideration for the calculation to the extent it exceeds the maximum daily wage and that the payment may not be less than the applicable minimum wage.
For the second year of leave, an employee remains entitled to 70% of the base salary on the condition that it does not exceed 70% of the maximum daily wage. Dutch Civil Code (as amended), arts. 7:629.
Female employees are entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks’ pregnancy and maternity leave. Maternity leave can begin up to six 6 weeks (ten weeks in case of multiple births) and should start no later than four 4 weeks (eight weeks in case of multiple births) before the baby is due and can continue for at least 10 weeks after birth even if delivery is later than expected. An employer shall not allow a pregnant employee to work after the 28th day before the due date and employees may return to work earlier, but no sooner than 42 days after giving birth.
Pay – 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.
In case the child is admitted to hospital during maternity leave due to some medical condition, the leave can be extended by the equivalent number of days calculated from the 8th day of admission in the hospital up to and including the last day of maternity up to a maximum of 10 weeks. A female employee upon request to the employer can divide the leave after 6 weeks on which the entitlement to the leave commenced. Part of such leave can be taken during the period of 30 weeks, which starts on the day after the maternity leave has been divided. The amount of the maternity leave that is divided up and taken later is equal to the working hours per week at the time of the maternity leave that follows after the actual date of the birth.
Mothers who return to work after giving birth the right to feed the infant and express breast milk on the job site for up to 9 months after birth. Nursing mothers in the workplace receive full pay and are eligible to use this option up to one-quarter of their working time. Working Time Act, 1995 (as amended), art. 4:8 (Dutch); Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended), art. 3:8 (Dutch).
An employee whose spouse or the person with whom the employee cohabits unmarried gives birth to a child is entitled to a period of four weeks from the first day after the birth on birth leave with pay of one working week per week. An employee is provided a maximum of full 5 weeks of unpaid leave which can be taken within 6 months calculated from the first day of the birth of the child. Employees are entitled to pay from social security. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended), art. 4:2 (Dutch); Act Introducing Extra Birth Leave, 2018 (Dutch).
An employee is entitled to leave in an amount equal to a maximum of twice the working hours per week in each period of 12 consecutive months. The period of 12 months starts on the first day on which the leave is taken, for the necessary care in connection with the illness of the below-mentioned person:
- the spouse registered partner with whom the employee cohabits without being married;
- a child with whom the employee has a family relationship as a parent;
- a child of the spouse registered partner with whom the employee cohabits without being married;
- a foster child who according to the basic registration of persons, lives at the same address as the employee and who is caring for as a foster parent
- a relative in the first or second degree
- the person who without there being an employment relationship, forms part of the employee’s household; or
- the person with whom the employee otherwise has a social relationship, insofar as the care to be provided arises directly from that relationship and must reasonably be provided by the employee.
Pay – An employee is entitled to 70% of his/her leave during the leave period. Work and Care Act, arts. 5:1 – 5:8.
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).
An employee is entitled to unpaid leave for the purpose of taking care of a child, partner, or parent who is life-threateningly ill or who is seriously ill and is in need of assistance. An employee is entitled to a maximum of 6 times the working hours per week in each period of 12 consecutive months. The twelve-month period starts on the first day on which the leave is taken. An employee is entitled to pay from social security. Work and Care Act, arts. 5:9 – 5:16.
Employees who have children or are raising children younger than age 8 are entitled to unpaid parental leave. A collective labor agreement may provide for paid leave. The maximum amount of leave per child is 26 times the employee’s working hours per week.
For example – 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 employee who adopts a child or takes in a foster child is entitled to a maximum of 6 weeks of leave. This leave shall be taken within 26 weeks, i.e from 4 weeks before the arrival of an adopted or foster child up to and including 22 weeks afterward. The leave shall start at the earliest 4 weeks before the arrival of the child or at the latest in the 18h week after the arrival of the child. An employee receives 100% of daily wages as benefits for leave by social security. Work and Care Act, art. 3:2.
An employee is entitled to a paid leave of absence for a short period for any unforeseen emergencies, to take care of the very first-day illness, in case of death of near relatives, etc. Work and Care Act, art. 4:1.
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. Dutch Civil Code (as amended), arts. 7:643.
Last updated on: February 19th, 2021