Last updated on: December 30th, 2022
The Labor Law in the Netherlands is regulated mainly by the Dutch Civil Code (DCC). The general rules are laid down in the Dutch Constitution and in 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. These laws govern the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, annual leave, special leaves & other employment relationships.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Normal Working Hours
An employee can legally work a maximum of 12 hours per shift and a maximum of 60 hours per week. Employees are not permitted to work 12 hours a day (the maximum working hours) every week. Across a 4-week period, an employee may not work on average more than 55 hours per week, and over a 16-week period, an employee may not work more than 48 hours per week. 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 hours and rest time 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 of working hours 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 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 15 minutes. If an employee is called once again within a half hour after they have finished their 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 an 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 the employee 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, the employee 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:
- Employees shall not be required to work or be on call for the next 8 hours after the final night call.
- If the above condition is not possible, employees must have 8 hours of rest in a row on the same day (before midnight).
Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5.9
The law does not provide a national standard for overtime; it is usually agreed upon by individual employment contracts and collective agreements.
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. An employee shall not exceed a night shift maximum of 10 hours per day, and the average workweek cannot exceed 40 hours over a 16-week consecutive period.
Rest Between Shift
After a night shift, a employee’s next night shift must start at least 14 hours later, and if an employee works a series of 3 or more night shifts, the next night 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 the rest period. This may be shortened to 8 hours a maximum of once per week. If a night shift ends before 2 am, this must be followed by 11 consecutive hours of the rest period.
Increased Duration of Night Work
An employee may work a 12-hour night shift, a maximum of 5 times per 2 weeks and 22 times per year. After a 12-hour night shift, they 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 the rest period. 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 has not worked more than 140 times in a night shift after 2 a.m. in 52 consecutive weeks and a maximum of 38 hours between midnight and 6 a.m. in 2 consecutive weeks. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:2 – 5:8.
Employees are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid break after working 5 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. Breaks shall not be constituted as working hours. A collective arrangement may include agreements on fewer breaks. But if the employee works for more than 5 ½ hours, they must at least have 15 minutes of break time. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:4.
Daily Rest Period
An employee shall be entitled to at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest period in 24 hours. 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 necessitates it. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § 5:3.
Weekly Rest Period
An employee shall be entitled to 36 consecutive hours of weekly rest period on a consecutive 7 days period. In certain circumstances, a longer work week is permitted if the employee shall be entitled to at least 72 consecutive hours of rest in 14 consecutive days. This period may be split into 2 periods of at least 32 consecutive hours each rest period. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:3.
An employee does not have to work on Sundays unless the employer and employee have made an agreement in this respect. No employee shall work more than 4 Sundays during the course of a 13 consecutive weeks period, any exceptions to this rule must be included in the collective bargaining agreement. The employer shall also organize work in a manner that each employee has at least 13 free Sundays during the course of a 52-week period. Working Hours Act, 1996 (as amended), § § 5:4
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. Public holidays that fall on weekends are not moved to a weekday. There are 10 general observed public holidays which are as follows:
- New Year’s Day – January 1
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- King’s Day
- Liberation Day – May 5
- Ascension Day (the 40th day after Easter Sunday)
- Pentecost (Whit Sunday and Whit Monday)
- Christmas Day – Dec 25
- Boxing Day – Dec 26
An employee is entitled to annual leave equal to 4 times the number of hours worked per week, or at least an equivalent period if the number of hours worked is specified in hours per year, for each year in which the employee is entitled to wages beyond the entire contracted working hours.
For example, if an employee works for 25 hours a week throughout the year, the employee is entitled to 100 vacation hours per year. This allows an employee to take at least 4 weeks of vacation per year.
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 annual leave in proportion to the holiday entitlements they have earned if they have been entitled to wages over the full working hours for the entire year.
Pay – An employee is entitled to their regular wages during their annual leave along with paid 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.
The minimum wage effective from January 1, 2023, is € 1,934.40 per month
The minimum wage given above may not be up to date. Kindly access the link to see the current wage rate.
An employee who becomes incapable to work shall be 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 have 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 for up to one-quarter of their working time.
Pregnancy check-up leaves – Female employees are entitled to take paid leaves for their pregnancy check-ups during working hours. Working Time Act, 1995 (as amended), art. 4:8 (Dutch); Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended), art. 3:8 (Dutch).
If an employee whose spouse or the person with whom the employee cohabits unmarried gives birth to a child shall be entitled to paid parental leave of 1 week after the birth of the child. This paid leave can be taken any time in the first 4 weeks after the birth of the child.
Pay– An employee is entitled to receive pay equal to 100% of their salary.
An employee has the right to take an extended unpaid leave of up to 5 weeks which can be taken within 6 months calculated from the first day of the birth of the child. Employees can claim benefits up to 70% of their salary from Social Security. Work and Care Act, 2001 (as amended), art. 4:2 (Dutch); Act Introducing Extra Birth Leave, 2018 (Dutch).
An employee’s entitlement to short-term care leave is twice the number of hours worked per week in 12 months. The period of 12 months starts on the first day on which the care leave is taken for the in connection with illness of 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.
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.
Pay– An employee is entitled to receive 70% of their salary from Social Security.
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.
Pay – 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 a paid leave during the absence for attending the meetings of the First Chamber of the States-General (Parliament), the meetings of representing bodies of government authorities and for attending the meetings of commissions formed by these representing bodies. This also applies 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.