Every employee is entitled to a leave with full pay. The right to leave days is built up during the course of a year. There are also several kinds of special leave you can make use of.
The minimum number of leave days to which you are entitled after one year is four times the agreed number of days you work each week (usually 4 x 5 = 20 days). If you have not yet been employed for one year by an employer, your holiday will be calculated proportionately. You will receive full pay during your leave.
Leave entitlements can be saved for up to six months. Extra vacation entitlements can be saved up to five years. This offers employees more scope to save a portion of their paid leave days for longer periods in order to, for example, take a day off to tend to a sick child or family member or take a course, etc.
In addition, you are entitled to a minimum leave allowance. The leave allowance is payable by your employer and is paid at least once a year (usually in May). Your employer must specify the amount of your leave allowance on your salary slip. The leave allowance amounts to 8% of your income in money (basic wage, bonuses and allowances). The CAO (collective labor agreement) might include other agreements about the number of leave days, the payment and the amount of the leave allowance.
King’s Day (27 April) is the only national holiday of the Netherlands.
Other generally-observed public holidays:
- New Year’s Day: 1 January
- Easter Monday
- Ascension Day
- Whit Monday
- Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Whether you are free from work on these days depends on the agreements made between employers and employees in the CAO or those in your employment contract.
Other leave schemes
Employees are not only entitled to fully paid regular leave days, but also to several kinds of special leaves such as:
- Adoption and foster leave (adoptieverlof)
- Emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof)
- Short-term compassionate leave (kortdurend zorgverlof)
- Long-term compassionate leave (langdurig zorgverlof)
- Parental leave (ouderschapsverlof)
- Paternity leave (vaderschapsverlof)
- Pregnancy and maternity leave (zwangerschapsverlof)
- Unpaid leave
The sections below describe the legal regulations. A CAO might have better regulations. More detailed information about holidays and special leave is available on a related website of the Dutch government.
Adoption leave (adoptieverlof)
You are entitled to adoption leave when you adopt a child. Both parents can take adoption leave. When you adopt more than one child at the same time, you can take the adoption leave only once. When you have foster children, you are also entitled to adoption leave. Your adoption leave may be between two weeks before to sixteen weeks after the adoption. The maximum amount of leave is four weeks, in which you will receive an allowance that matches your salary, up to a maximum amount.
Emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof)
Emergency leave is leave you can take when you suddenly and unexpectedly need to take time off, for example, if the water lines in your house burst or your child becomes ill. The period should be reasonable, so the length depends on why it is needed. In some cases, a few hours will be enough; in other cases, you might need a few days. During an emergency leave, your employer will continue to pay your salary.
Short-term compassionate leave (kortdurend zorgverlof)
You are entitled to short-term compassionate leave if you have to look after a parent, a sick child who lives at home or your partner, but this applies only when you are the only person who is able to provide the care at that time. Unlike your partner and child, it is not necessary for your parent or parents to be registered at your address. You are also entitled to short-term compassionate leave to look after your foster child if he or she is ill and if he or she lives with you and a foster care contract has been signed. Every twelve months, you are entitled to no more than twice the number of hours you work in one week. For example, if you work 36 hours a week, you can take up to 72 hours short-term compassionate leave every twelve months. During any short-term compassionate leave that you take, you will continue to receive at least seventy per cent of your salary from your employer.
Long-term compassionate leave (langdurig zorgverlof)
You are entitled to long-term compassionate leave when you are employed and you are caring for your partner, child or parent who has a life-threatening illness. “Life-threatening” means that the life of the person concerned is at serious risk over a short term. Every year, you are entitled to a long-term compassionate leave for a period of up to twelve weeks during which you are allowed to reduce your working hours to not less than half of normal. You will not receive wages for the hours that you use for long-term compassionate leave.
Parental leave (ouderschapsverlof)
You are entitled to parental leave as soon as you are employed and are caring for a child that is younger than eight. Both parents are entitled to parental leave. If you have more children, you are entitled to parental leave for each child separately. You are also entitled to parental leave for your adopted children, foster children or stepchildren, provided the child is living with you. Your parental leave is up to 26 times your weekly working hours. Parental leave is unpaid leave but parents can claim benefits from the UWV for up to 70% of their salary for 9 weeks out of the 26 weeks. The paid leave must be taken during the child’s first year.
Paternity/partner leave (vaderschaps-/partnerverlof)
After your partner has given birth, you are entitled to one week of paternity/partner leave. Paternity/partner leave is a paid leave.
Unpaid extended paternity/ partner leave
Partners have the right to 5 weeks extended unpaid leave after the initial 1 week paid leave. Employees who take unpaid leave can claim benefits from the UWV for up to 70% of their salary. This leave must be taken in the first 6 months after the child is born.
Pregnancy and maternity leave (zwangerschaps en bevallingsverlof)
Pregnant employees are entitled to pregnancy and maternity leave for at least sixteen weeks. Babies are seldom born on the date they are due. The period of leave depends on the due date and on the date the baby is born. You can take pregnancy leave from six weeks before the date the baby is due. The pregnancy leave should start no later than four weeks before the baby is due. After giving birth, you are always entitled to at least ten weeks of maternity leave even if the baby is born later than it was due. During your leave, you will receive an allowance which matches your salary up to a maximum amount.
Other unpaid leave
Employees may decide to take a period of unpaid leave. Long-term care leave and parental leave are forms of unpaid leave that are laid down by law, and employers may not refuse requests for this kind of leave. Employees may also take unpaid leave for a few months to go travelling or to take a course of study. There may be arrangements on this matter in your collective labour agreement (CAO). Taking unpaid leave leads to a fall in income and may affect your entitlement to certain allowances and social insurance.
Special or extraordinary leave
- 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.
Does leave affect holiday entitlement?
Holiday entitlement in the Netherlands continues to build up while an employee takes leave. As an employee you only accrue holiday hours not only when you work, but also when you are ill or on maternity leave, long-term care leave or additional partner leave.