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Holiday entitlement

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If you run a business in the Netherlands and you employ staff, you must comply with statutory regulations regarding holiday entitlements (in Dutch). This also applies if your business has its registered office outside of the Netherlands and you employ workers in the Netherlands. These regulations state that employees are entitled to a minimum number of days' paid leave. This means you have to keep paying your employees during their leave.

How many vacation days do you give to employees?

The statutory number of leave hours per year is at least 4 times the number of weekly working hours. Does your employee work 40 hours a week? He has a right to 4x40=160 hours of leave. In case of part-time employment, the number of leave hours is calculated proportionally.

Coronavirus: no mandatory holidays

You may not force your employees to take holidays (in excess) if you have less or no work for them due to the coronavirus. You may ask your employees to take leave. You must pay your employees their fixed hours. Do you suffer loss of turnover as a result of the corona crisis? Then you can apply for a compensation towards wages (NOW measure).

You may not withhold holiday allowance to pay for salaries, unless you and your employees agree to this as part of a survival plan for your business. In case of payment problems, you may once pay the holiday allowance on a later date or in instalments. Your employees must agree to this.

Taking statutory holidays

You must allow your employees to take their statutory holidays every year. They may choose to spend the holidays within 6 months after the end of the year. Vacation days accrued in 2020 cannot, therefore, be taken after 1 July 2021 . After that, they will lapse. However, the 6-month period does not apply to employees who have reasonably been unable to take holiday. You and your employee(s) may, in joint consultation, decide to extend the period. According to the collective labour agreement (CAO), a 5-year period applies to additional holidays.

Public holidays

The Netherlands has a number of official public holidays (in Dutch). There is no statutory obligation to give your employees leave on public holidays. Your sector's collective labour agreement (CAO) or the employment contract determines if your employees can have a day off on public holidays.

Your sector's CAO may state that a Christian public holiday can be substituted for an alternative religious holiday. These include for instance the holiday of Eid Al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan or Chanukah.The public holidays in the Netherlands are:

  • New Year's Day
  • Good Friday (depending on CAO)
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • King’s Day (27 April)
  • Liberation Day (5 May, see below)
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Sunday
  • Whit Monday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

Liberation Day (5 May)

Although 5 May is a public holiday, this does not necessarily mean your employees are entitled to have a paid day off. Many collective labour agreements (CAOs) stipulate that 5 May is a day off once every five years (e.g. 2020, 2025, 2030 et cetera). You decide whether your employees have a day off on 5 May if the CAO does not contain any terms on this subject or if there is no CAO for your sector.

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Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO