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  • Writer's pictureGlenn C. Haulussy

Holiday entitlement and statutory leave entitlement in the Netherlands

Written by Glenn C. Haulussy LL.M.


If you own a business in the Netherlands and you employ staff, you must comply with the statutory regulations regarding holiday entitlement. 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 part time.

You can offer employees additional leave (non-statutory leave, bovenwettelijke vakantiedagen). Sometimes, this is required under the collective labor agreement (in Dutch: 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.

According to recent case law, an employer must give the employee written notice on the expiration of the statutory and non-statutory leave. Otherwise the employee is still entitled to take their leave.

Payout of leave

  • You cannot pay out the statutory leave your employee has not used, even if this is requested by the employee. The reason is that the employer is obliged to give the employee the possibility to take their statutory leave in order to give the employee the opportunity to have his necessary rest.

  • You can pay out the unused non-statutory leave, but only if your employee agrees to this in writing.

  • If the employee leaves your company, you must pay out any unused (statutory or non-statutory) leave.

Public holidays

The Netherlands has a number of official public holidays. Despite what most people think, 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. It is however common practice in the Netherlands that employers give their employees leave 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 CAO’s 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.


Statutory leave arrangements

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

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

  • 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 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 hospitalized 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  (UWV). The Agency will pay the salary either to the employer or the employee, whichever the employer prefers.

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 the salary continues to be paid.

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 UWV 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 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 labor 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. 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 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 are not based on any law, but are rather provided for in a 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 depends on the conditions arranged in the CAO or employment contract.

Unpaid leave

Employees may take unpaid leave 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 labor 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 the collective labor agreement (CAO).








About the Author:

Glenn C. Haulussy LL.M.

Attorney-at-law since 1987. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Master Private Law. Postdoctoral Company Law and Insolvency Law at Grotius Academy (University of Nijmegen). From 2005 until 1 January 2020 Glenn has been the Vice President of AEA International Network of Lawyers. As of 1 January 2020 Glenn has been appointed as Treasurer of Metropole Alliance, an international network of lawyers, accountants, tax advisers and other professional accountants.

Glenn prefers to solve the issues of his clients via negotiating. Thinks in possibilities and not in problems. Glenn likes to set out a strategy in close cooperation with his clients. Believes that ICT will work productively for the law practice. His slogan: ‘It is better to have a good settlement than a great verdict’.

Visit his website here: 


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