Navigating Leave Entitlements in the Netherlands: A Guide for Expats

Navigating Leave Entitlements in the Netherlands: A Guide for Expats

The Dutch employment law provides comprehensive coverage for sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, holiday leave, and other time-off work. This guide aims to demystify these entitlements for expats, ensuring you can fully benefit from the Netherlands’ employee-friendly policies.

Sick Leave (Ziekteverlof)

In the Netherlands, if you’re unable to work due to illness, you’re entitled to sick leave. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Notification Requirements: You must inform your employer about your illness as soon as possible, adhering to company policy.
  • Sick Pay: Employees are generally entitled to continued payment during illness. The law mandates payment of at least 70% of your salary, up to a maximum of two years. Many employers offer 100% salary for the first year as part of their company policy.
  • Doctor’s Note: Depending on your employer’s policy, you may be required to provide a medical certificate or be assessed by the company doctor.

Maternity and Paternity Leave (Zwangerschapsverlof & Partnerverlof)

The Netherlands offers generous maternity and paternity leave benefits, supporting families during this significant life event.

  • Maternity Leave: Pregnant employees are entitled to a total of 16 weeks of maternity leave, which can start 4 to 6 weeks before the due date. You receive 100% of your salary, up to a certain maximum, during this period.
  • Paternity/Partner Leave: Recently expanded, partners can take up to 5 days of fully paid leave immediately after the birth of their child. Additionally, partners can take an additional 5 weeks of leave during the first six months after birth, paid at 70% of their daily wage (up to a certain maximum).


Holiday Leave (Vakantieverlof)

Holiday leave is another area where the Netherlands shines, offering ample time for rest and relaxation.

  • Annual Leave: Full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of four times the weekly work hours in annual leave. For a typical 40-hour week, this translates to at least 20 days (4 weeks) of paid holiday leave per year.
  • Public Holidays: The Netherlands also observes several public holidays. While not all are mandated days off by law, most employers provide these as paid days off.

Short-Term Care Leave (Kortdurend zorgverlof)

Short-term care leave allows employees to take time off to care for a sick partner, child, or parent who needs their immediate care and assistance. Here are the key points:

  • Entitlement: Employees are entitled to twice the amount of their weekly working hours per 12 months. For example, if you work 40 hours a week, you’re entitled to 80 hours of short-term care leave in a year.
  • Compensation: During short-term care leave, employees are entitled to at least 70% of their salary, though this cannot fall below the minimum wage. Some employers might offer better conditions through collective agreements or employment contracts.

Long-Term Care Leave (Langdurig zorgverlof)

Long-term care leave is designed for employees who need to care for a seriously ill partner, child, or parent for an extended period. The rules are as follows:

  • Entitlement: Employees can take up to 6 times their weekly working hours over a 12-month period. Continuing with the previous example, if you work 40 hours a week, you could take up to 240 hours of long-term care leave in a year.
  • Compensation: This type of leave is generally unpaid, unless otherwise specified by the employer or through a collective labour agreement.


The Netherlands offers a supportive environment for workers, with extensive leave entitlements ensuring that you don’t have to choose between your career and your personal life. Understanding these rights is crucial for expats to make the most of their work-life balance in the Netherlands. Whether you’re taking time off for health reasons, to welcome a new family member, or to recharge, the Dutch system is designed to support your well-being and family life.