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In the Netherlands, employees can make use of various statutory leave schemes. Collective labour agreements (CAO) may contain different rules. If a CAO has been declared universally binding for your sector, you are obliged as an employer to comply with it. Besides you can make individual agreements with your employees.
Pregnancy and maternity leave
Pregnant employees are entitled to (in Dutch) 4-6 weeks pregnancy leave (before the due date) and at least 10 weeks maternity leave (after childbirth). If your employee takes less than 6 weeks pregnancy leave before the birth, she is entitled to add the remaining amount (up to 2 weeks) 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 and the total may therefore be longer than 16 weeks.
If your employee is expecting multiple births, she is entitled to at least 20 weeks leave. She is also entitled to a maternity pay.
If the baby goes into hospital directly after birth or during the maternity leave, your employee's entitlement to 10 weeks maternity leave begins after the baby has left the hospital. If the mother dies in childbirth, her partner is entitled to the maternity leave.
Employers can apply for a maternity allowance on behalf of their employee to the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV, in Dutch).
Self-employed professionals are also entitled to pregnancy leave, maternity leave and an allowance.
If the partner of an employee gives birth, the employee is entitled to 1 week of partner/parternity leave following 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 are entitled to 5 weeks unpaid leave in the first 6 months after the birth. Employees who take unpaid leave will be able to claim benefits from the Employment Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) for up to 70% of their salary.
The following conditions apply:
- the employee must have taken the standard 1-week's partner leave first;
- they must take the leave for whole weeks;
- they can only take the extra weeks' leave during the first 6 months after the birth;
- the employee can only take up non-consecutive weeks if the employer agrees to this.
If you as the employer agree, the employee can spread the leave over a longer period than 5 weeks. They can also choose to take less than 5 weeks.
Employees with children aged up to 8 can take unpaid parental leave in the Netherlands. They are eligible 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.
Employees who have adopted a child or have taken in a foster child, are entitled to 6 weeks adoption or foster leave. The leave applies to both parents. They are entitled to an adoption or foster care allowance (in Dutch). 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 period of time. You may not refuse this, unless your business will face serious problems as a result.
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, when making 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 are required to continue paying the employee's salary. Emergency leave and short absence leave are legal leave schemes. If different arrangements have been included in the collective labour agreement or regulations of the works council or employee representation, these arrangements apply.
Short-term care leave
Short-term care leave (in Dutch) can be taken to provide essential care to parents, ill children who still live at home or partners. However, this leave is only granted on the condition that the employee in question is the only person who can look after the ill person at that moment in time. 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.
Long-term care leave
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.
Employees may in consultation with you take unpaid leave (in Dutch) on a full-time or part-time basis. 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.
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 employee contract. It includes leave for giving official notice of an intended marriage, marriage (of a family member), moving house, funeral (of a family member), a service or wedding anniversary, an interview or for consulting a doctor.
There are some differences between the different collective labour agreements, but often special leave is granted as follows:
- Giving official notice of an intended marriage 1 day
- Marriage 2-4 days
- Marriage of a family member 1 day
- Funeral of a spouse/partner, parent or child 4 days
- Funeral of a grandparent, brother (in-law) or sister (in-law) 2 days
Does leave affect holiday entitlement?
Holiday entitlement in the Netherlands continues to accumulate 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.