Types of Employee Leave in the Netherlands 

The Dutch are some of the best in the world at maintaining a healthy work/life balance. An important contributor to this feat is the strong employee protection established in Dutch labour law. 

The Dutch labour law details the employer’s responsibilities regarding managing leave entitlements. The leave schemes dictate that employees become entitled to sick leave, holiday leave, parental leave, and other types of leave within certain conditions. This could be paid or unpaid leave. 

As an employer, you should have your finger on the pulse and give your employees guidance with respect to their rights on leave of absences.  

Read on to learn more about the statutory provisions in different types of leave an employee is entitled to. 

Holiday leave entitlement 

In the Netherlands, the employees receive the legal minimum of vacation days which accounts for 4 times their ordinary hours of work per week. For part-time employees, the number of leave hours is calculated correspondingly. Full-time employees are entitled to at least 4 weeks of paid annual holidays, which is equivalent to 20 vacation days. However, it is common for employers to offer up to 25 holidays per year, apart from 10 Dutch public holidays. 


The official public holidays in the Netherlands are: 

  • New Year’s Day 
  • Good Friday (depending on Collective Labour Agreement) 
  • Easter Sunday 
  • Easter Monday 
  • Ascension Day 
  • Whit Monday
  • King’s Day 
  • Liberation Day (every 5 years) 
  • Christmas Day 
  • Boxing Day 

Employees can start accruing leave from their first day of work. Holidays should be taken as much as possible in the year in which the entitlement to these holidays is acquired. Unused holiday days are paid in accordance with the Dutch Civil Code at the end of the employment. An excess of holiday days taken shall be deducted from the salary or final settlement at the termination of employment. 

During the holidays, the employer is obliged to pay the employee’s salary as usual. Aside from that, the employee is also entitled to a holiday allowance, which is a minimum of 8% addition to the annual salary. The holiday allowance is granted to the employee in May or June. 

Sick leave entitlement 

The basic sick leave entitlements of all employees are covered in the legislation. The scheme allows the employee to take leave in case of personal illness and receive sick pay. The obligation of the employer is to pay at least 70% of the employee’s most recent earned wage. Some employers even offer to pay 100% of the wages.  

In the event of a disabled employee becoming ill, the employer can apply for wage compensation benefits at the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). This is called ‘no-risk policy’, in which the employer continues to pay employee’s wage and redeem the benefits against this.  

Care leave entitlement 

Employees in the Netherlands can make use of care leave, to provide care and support for an immediate family member or household member who is suffering from an illness. This leave takes effect on the condition if the sick person requires care and the employee is the ONLY person who can provide it. If the sick person is in the hospital, care leave is not applicable because the hospital provides the care. A confirmation from a qualified health practitioner must be provided if the employee wishes to take out this leave. 

  • Within a 12-month period, employees are entitled to take short-term care leave equal to twice their working hours. During this time, the employer must pay at least 70% of their salary.  
  • For life-threatening illness, long-term care leave is also possible, up to six times one’s weekly working hours. However, the employer is not obliged to pay any salary during this period. 

Maternity and Parental leave entitlement 

  • Maternity leave 

The Dutch government required pregnant employees to take time off a minimum of 4 weeks before the due date. In fact, pregnant employees are entitled to 4–6 weeks pregnancy eave (before the due date) and at least 10 weeks of maternity leave (post-childbirth). 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 the mother dies in childbirth, her partner can access to maternity leave. 

If the employee is expecting multiple births, she is entitled to at least 20 weeks of pregnancy leave. She is also entitled to maternity pay. For an employer, you can apply for maternity and pregnancy benefit from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). 


  • Partner/paternity leave 

The paternity leave entitlement kicks in when the partner of the employee gives birth. The employee can request 1 week of paid leave following the birth and any time in the first 4 weeks after the birth of the child. The employer is required to pay 100% of the employee’s salary when they take out this leave.  

From 1st July 2020, employees have the right to take 5 weeks of unpaid leave in the first 6 months after birth. In this event, the partner leave benefits are administered by the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), which constitutes 70% of employee salary. To be eligible for the benefits, the employee has to apply for the leave themselves. 


  • Parental leave 

Employees are entitled to 26 weeks of parental leave if they are the legal parent or caretaker of a child, during the first 8 years of the child’s life. It is a requirement that the employer grants this leave to the employee. In general, parental leave is unpaid, but the employer can partially cover the cost.  

Adoption leave 

Employers are required to provide employees with time off for 6 weeks if the employee adopts a child or has taken in a foster child. This type of leave is available for both parents. During the leave, the employee can make use of an adoption/foster care allowance that matches their salary from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). 

Only for potent business reasons can the employer reject this leave. 

Personal emergency leave 

Employers in the Netherlands are required to grant permission for personal emergency leave and continue paying employee’s salary. Short-term leave is also available in reasonable situations. This leave of absence may be taken in case of unforeseen personal circumstances such as injury, illness, family member’s death, et cetera.  

Special or extraordinary leave 

This leave entitlement is not required by law but should be provided in the individual agreements or employment contract between the employee and the employer. Insofar as the absence is necessary during the working hours, it is important that the employer understands this entitlement and allows the employees to access leave should they need to deal with such situations.  

Examples of this leave are: 

  • Marriage, marriage anniversary 
  • Doctor appointment 
  • Funeral 
  • Moving house 
  • Study and exam purposes 

Wrapping it up 

There are many reasons why an employee may need to take time off work. It is crucial that the employer ensures compliance with changing laws and informs employees of their rights.  

In addition, the Netherlands ranked as the best for work-life balance according to OECD thanks to the extremely generous leave policies. Adequate breaks from work are essential for an employee’s mental health. From a business point of view, being caring and offering support when an employee is in need also serves as a good retention strategy.  

Octagon Professionals are experts in employment law in the Netherlands with 30 years of experienceIf you are new to employing the Netherlands, our experts can help you understand more about immigration, tax and statutory entitlements. Get in touch with us for advice! 

Related Articles

dutch holiday allowance
career lesson covid 19