If you run a business in the Netherlands and you employ staff, you must comply with the statutory regulations regarding holiday entitlements (in Dutch). This also applies if your business is established outside of the Netherlands and you employ workers in the Netherlands. These regulations state that employees are entitled to a minimum number of paid holiday days (statutory leave, wettelijke vakantiedagen). This means you have to keep paying your employees during their leave.
How much annual leave do you give to employees?
Employees are entitled to statutory leave: a minimum of 4 times the number of hours they work per week. For example, if they work 40 hours a week, they will then be entitled to 4x40=160 hours of leave per year. The amount of statutory leave is calculated proportionally for employees that work parttime.
You can offer employees additional leave (non-statutory leave, bovenwettelijke vakantiedagen). Sometimes, this is required under the collective labour agreement (CAO).
Taking statutory leave
You must allow your employees to take their statutory leave every year. They may choose to take this leave up until 6 months after the end of the year. After that, the hours will expire. Annual leave accrued in 2023 cannot, therefore, be taken after 1 July 2024. However, the 6-month period does not apply to employees who have reasonably been unable to take leave. You and your employee(s) may, in joint consultation, decide to extend the period under the CAO (with a maximum of 5 years).
Non-statutory leave expires 5 years after the year in which it has been accrued.
Payout of leave
- You cannot pay out the statutory leave your employee has not used, even if this is requested by the employee.
- You can pay out the unused non-statutory leave, but only if your employee agrees to this.
- If the employee leaves your company, you must pay out any unused (statutory or non-statutory) leave.
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 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, such as Eid Al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, or Chanukah.
The public holidays in the Netherlands are:
- New Year's Day (1 January)
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- Easter Monday
- King’s Day (27 April)
- Liberation Day (5 May, see also below)
- Ascension Day
- Whit Sunday
- Whit Monday
- Christmas Day (25 December)
- Boxing Day (26 December)
Liberation Day (5 May)
Although 5 May is a public holiday, many collective labour agreements (CAOs) stipulate that 5 May is a day off only once every five years (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.