Leave schemes

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 30 Aug 2022
5 min read
Nederlandse versie

In the Netherlands, employees can make use of various statutory leave schemes. The collective labour agreements (CAO) may contain different rules. If a CAO has been declared universally binding for your sector, you as an employer should to follow it. You can also make individual agreements with your employees.

Statutory leave arrangements

Every employee is entitled to statutory leave. These statutory leave arrangements are set out in the Work and Care Act (in Dutch):

  • pregnancy leave and maternity leave
  • partner/paternity leave
  • parental leave
  • adoption leave or foster care leave
  • short- and long-term care leave
  • emergency leave and short absence leave

Pregnancy and maternity leave

Pregnant employees are entitled to (in Dutch) 6 weeks pregnancy leave (before the due date) and at least 10 weeks maternity leave (after childbirth). In total your employee has a right to at least 16 weeks of leave. If, for instance, the baby is born before the pregnancy leave, the total of 16 weeks starts from the day after the birth.

In some cases the maternity leave can be longer than 10 weeks. For example:

  • If your employee takes less than 6 weeks (but no less than 4 weeks) pregnancy leave before the birth. She can add the remaining amount to her maternity leave after the birth.
  • If the baby is born later than the due date. The employee's maternity leave begins after the actual birth. The total may therefore be longer than 16 weeks.

In the case of a multiple birth, your employee has the right to at least 20 weeks leave. She also has a right to a maternity pay.

Is the baby hospitalised for more than 7 days directly after birth or during the maternity leave (in Dutch)? Your employee may have a right to longer maternity leave. If the mother dies in childbirth, her partner is entitled to the maternity leave.

Maternity pay

Employers can apply for maternity benefit for their employee to the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV).

Self-employed professionals

Self-employed professionals are also entitled to pregnancy leave, maternity leave and an allowance.

Pregnancy check-up leave

Your employee is entitled to leave when she has a pregnancy check-up during working hours. Your employee does not have to take any holiday hours and their salary continues to be paid. This is stated in the Working Hours Act.

Partner/paternity leave

If the partner of an employee gives birth, the employee has a right to 1 week of parental leave for partners after the birth. This paid leave can be taken any time in the first 4 weeks after the birth of the child. During this period of leave you must continue to pay 100% of the employee's salary.

Extended partner leave

Partners have the right to 5 weeks unpaid leave in the first 6 months after the birth. They can also choose to take less than 5 weeks. Employees who take unpaid leave will be able to claim benefits from the Employment Insurance Agency (UWV in Dutch) for up to 70% of their salary.

The employee must:

  • take the standard 1-week partner leave first;
  • take the extra weeks' leave during the first 6 months after the childbirth;

The employee can spread the leave over a longer period than 5 weeks. The employer has to agree to this.

Parental leave

Employees with children aged up to 8 have the right to parental leave in the Netherlands. They can get at most 26 times the number of hours they work per week. Parents get paid the first 9 of the 26 weeks parental leave. They receive a benefit from the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV). The UWV benefit for paid parental leave amounts to 70% of the daily wage. Employees must take the paid leave in the child's first year. Employees are allowed to take this leave as soon as they start working for you. You must allow this leave. During parental leave you are not legally required to pay their salary. Unless this is agreed in the collective labour agreement (CAO) or employment contract.

Adoption leave and foster leave

Employees who have adopted a child or have taken in a foster child, are entitled to 6 weeks adoption or foster leave (in Dutch). The leave applies to both parents. They have the right to an adoption allowance or foster care benefit. Your employee must apply to you for the adoption or foster leave at least 3 weeks in advance. They may take this leave spread out over a longer period of time. You may not refuse this, unless your business will face serious problems as a result.

Short-term and long-term care leave

Short-term care leave (in Dutch) can be taken to provide essential care to someone who is ill or otherwise in real need. For this leave your employee must be the only person who can look after the ill person at that moment in time. You can grant short-term care leave if you employee needs to take care of:

  • children or grandchildren
  • partner
  • parents or grandparents
  • resident members of the household
  • friends, neighbours or acquaintances, provided there is a social relation and it is plausible and logical your employee is the care giver

During the period of leave, you continue to pay 70% of the employee's salary. If this is less than the minimum wage, you pay the minimum wage.

If a child, partner, or parent of one of your employees is seriously (i.e. life-threateningly) ill and requires care, the employee can request long-term care leave (in Dutch). During this period of leave, you do not have to continue paying the employee's salary. Your employee must request long-term care leave from you in writing 2 weeks in advance. You can ask for information to assess the long-term care leave.

Emergency leave and other short absence leave

Emergency leave (in Dutch) is intended for unforeseen personal circumstances for which an employee has to take time off immediately. For instance to make arrangements for the care of a sick family member or in the event of a death in the family. You must always grant a reasonable request for emergency leave. During this period of leave, you continue to pay the employee's salary. Emergency or short absence leave lasts as long as it is necessary to solve the urgent matter.You may ask your employee for proof that the leave was necessary afterwards.

Emergency leave and short absence leave are legal leave schemes. If different arrangements have been included in the collective labour agreement, the regulations of the works council or employee representation, these arrangements apply.

Special or extraordinary leave

Special leave and extraordinary leave (in Dutch) are not based on any law, but are rather provided for in your collective labour agreement (CAO), company scheme or employment contract. Some examples are:

  • marriage (of a family member)
  • funeral (of a family member)
  • moving house
  • consulting a doctor
  • a work anniversary
  • taking an exam
  • activities for a (trade) union

The duration of these types of leave depend on the conditions arranged in the CAO or employment contract.

Unpaid leave

Employees may take unpaid leave (in Dutch) on a full-time or part-time basis in consultation with you. The employment contract will continue during the leave. Employees do not have any legal entitlement to unpaid leave. However, it is possible for the collective labour agreement (CAO) to include arrangements relating to unpaid leave.

Does leave affect holiday entitlement?

Holiday entitlement in the Netherlands continues to build up while an employee takes leave. You may not deduct days taken off for leave from an employee's holiday entitlement, unless the employee has extra holiday entitlement (more than 4x the number of days worked in a week) and this has been agreed in his or her collective labour agreement.

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