In the Netherlands, employees can make use of various statutory leave schemes. The Work and Care act provides in the pregnancy and maternity leave, emergency leave, short term and long term care leave and parental leave. The collective labour agreement also has a ruling on special leave containing rulings for marriage, decease of a relative and other leaves.
Pregnancy and maternity leave
Pregnant employees are entitled to at least 4 weeks of pregnancy leave – before giving birth. And the least 10 weeks maternity leave – after childbirth. In total at least 16 weeks leave.
The date the pregnancy leave will start depends on the date the employee thinks she will give birth. The employee notifies the employer at least three weeks before the start of the leave, with an appropriate medical certificate. The employee 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 the employee is always entitled to at least ten weeks of maternity leave, even if the baby is born later than it was due.
Employers must make sure that pregnant or breastfeeding employees can work safely and without harm to their health. Therefor additional rules with regards to schedules and working environment apply:
- Regularly word- and rest times
- Extra breaks (minimum 1/8 part of worktime)
- A suitable, lockable room for resting and expressing milk (with a bed or couch)
- No overtime and night shifts
- Pregnancy tests during work hours
- Breastfeeding employees are entitled to use up to a quarter of their working time to breastfeed for nine months after the birth.
During pregnancy and maternity leave the pregnant employee is entitled to a benefit amounting to 100% of the daily wage based on the law. The employer can request a benefit from UWV to compensate the wage payment. The employer has to do this at least 2 weeks before the pregnancy leave goes in effect.
If the baby goes into hospital after birth or during the maternity leave, your employee is entitled to extra leave if the child has to stay in the hospital for a longer period.
If the mother dies at childbirth, the partner is entitled to the maternity leave, which is at least 10 weeks.
As of January 1, 2019, a partner is entitled to so-called birth leave. This is regulated in the Extra Birth Allowance Act. The law aims to make a positive contribution to the bond between the partner of the mother and child, and to improve the position of women on the labour market.
The leave is equal to one working week and must be taken within four weeks after birth. This leave applies after the day of birth, because on the day of birth emergency leave applies. During the emergency leave the employee is entitled to full wage payment. The employee is free to determine how the birth leave is spread, but must notify the employer in advance on how he would like to use his birth leave. An employer may not refuse the leave and the desired spread. During birth leave the employee is also entitled to full wage payment.
Additional birth leave as of July 1, 2020
From 1 July 2020, the partner is entitled to five weeks of additional birth leave after the five days of regular birth leave have been taken. It is important that the child was born on or after 1 July 2020. The employer applies for additional birth leave for the employee at the UWV. The employee is paid 70% of his wages. When applying, it is possible to opt to have the benefit paid directly to the employee.
Request additional birth leave
The additional birth leave must be taken within 6 months of the child’s birth. The application must be made at least 4 weeks in advance to the employer by letter or e-mail.
In exceptional cases, the employee can request the additional birth leave too late, for example if the child is born prematurely.
Change time of leave
In contrast to birth leave, the employer can change the additional birth leave up to 2 weeks in advance. This is only allowed if there is a compelling business or service interest. For example, the employer can propose other days or weeks. This must be done in consultation with the employee.
Accumulation of holidays and pension
In contrast to the rules with regard to unpaid leave, an employee does accrue holiday hours over his additional birth leave. If the employee receives the benefit directly from the UWV, this includes the accrual of holiday pay. If the employer continues to pay 70% of the wage, the employee accrues holiday pay over this. There is also no pension accrual during the leave, because the leave is considered unpaid leave in accordance with the law.
In view of the administrative matters involved, our advice is to have the benefit paid directly to the employee by the UWV.
Employees have a statutory right to parental leave (fathers and mothers alike) for children up to the age of 8. In the event of the birth of multiple children (i.e. twins, triplets) or when the employee adopts more than one child at the time, the employee can claim parental leave for every child. In order to establish the claim, the family situation is leading. In case both parents are working, they’re both entitled to parental leave.
The scope of parental leave
The scope of the parental leave depends on the number of working hours per week. The total number of hours of parental leave is calculated by multiplying the normal working hours per week times 26 (=6 months). An employee who usually works 32 hours per week is entitled to 32×26 = 832 hours parental leave.
Enjoy parental leave
Basic rule for the application of parental leave is that the number of hours of leave per week are no more than half of the normal working hours per week, enjoyed in a consecutive period of no more than twelve months. In case an employee works 32 hours a week, the parental leave is 16 hours per week maximum. If the employee files a request for parental leave according to this basic rule the employer is not allowed to refuse. However, the employer is allowed to ask the employee to take parental leave on different hours as requested up to 4 weeks before the starting date. The employee has to take this request into serious consideration and has to inform the employer on his decision.
Is the employee entitled to request for a different deal?
Yes, he may. The employee can also request for:
- the option to spread the hours of parental leave over a longer period of time than the statutory 12 months, or,
- the option to partition the parental leave in up to 3 time periods of at least one month each, or,
- the option to enjoy parental leave for more than half of his working hours per week (for example 6 months of full parental leave)
Unless the company can demonstrate a weighty interest that outgrows the interests of the employee, the employer has to agree with the requested leave.
In order to be able to start the parental leave the employee has to apply in writing two months in advance. In the application the employee mentions the starting date, the time frame during which the leave is enjoyed as well as the weekly schedule. Only special circumstances allow the employee to make adaptations to the agreement.
The consequences of parental leave
During the parental leave the content of the labour contract doesn’t change. The employee’s salary is adjusted to the actual working hours per week during the time of leave. No holiday hours are accumulated over the hours of leave. In case the employee changes jobs during the parental leave period the new employer is obliged to respect the current scheme.
Emergency leave is intended for unforeseen personal circumstance, which an employee has to take time off immediately. Examples of ‘unforeseen personal circumstance’ are:
- Organization around a death in the family
- Quickly find a babysitter or arrange care for a sick family member
- Arranging a plumber due to water damage in the residence of the employee
- Birth of a child
The duration for emergency leave depends on the reason for leave. Sometimes a few hours is sufficient. In another case, your employee might need more than a day of emergency leave.
During this period of leave, employers are required to continue paying the employee’s salary.
An employer can’t refuse a reasonable request for emergency leave. The employer can ask the employee to prove that taking emergency care leave was necessary.
Short term care leave
Employees are entitled to take short-term care leave to look after a sick child, partner or parent. Per year an employee is entitled to two times their weekly working hours. So for example an employee that works 26 hours each week, is entitled to 52 hours of short-term care leave. An employee is entitled to short-term care leave if he is the only one that can provide in the care at that time.
During the short-term care leave the employee is entitled to 70% of their normal wage or at least the statutory minimum wage.
An employee should notify the employer as soon as possible. It is possible to refuse a leave request if it would cause serious problems for the organisation or the business.
Long-term care leave
Employees are entitled to take long-term care leave to look after a sick child, partner or parent who is seriously ill for an extended period of time. The maximum amount of long-term care leave is six weeks.
The standard arrangement for an employee is that, for a period of 12 weeks, he takes 50% of his weekly working hours as leave and will work for the other 50%. Different arrangements are possible with consent of the employer. During long-term care leave an employee is not entitled to wage payment or a state benefit.
Employees must request the long-term care leave at least two weeks in advance, the employer should respond within one week. A request can be refused if the leave would cause serious problems for the business.