As an (expectant) parent or guardian in the Netherlands you may not be completely up to date with what your leave entitlements may be concerning maternity leave, partner leave, parental leave, or adoption/foster care leave.
In general parents/guardians of children in the Netherlands are entitled to several forms of leave to take care of their children. The entitlement to such leave often depends on several factors – are you an official resident? Are you employed in the Netherlands, and if so for how long? The right to certain benefits may be limited if you are self-employed.
In this article we will give you an insight into the various types of leave mentioned above.
Pregnant in the Netherlands in 2022
To be eligible to receive paid maternity leave in the Netherlands you need to be a legal resident and be employed / self-employed or receive unemployment or a sickness or wage-related return-to-work benefit. Maternity leave is generally limited to a minimum of 16 weeks paid leave, however if you are expecting twins or are to have a multiple birth the leave can be extended to a minimum of 20 weeks paid leave.
Whilst you are pregnant at work:
- Your employer has the obligation to make sure that you can work safely within a healthy environment
- You are entitled to take some extra breaks throughout the day if needed
- You may also be allowed to work less than your normal working hours per day (usually based on the advice of a company doctor) to minimize complications
- If required, you also have the right to carry out different tasks during your pregnancy and this entitlement remains until 6 months after birth, if your normal daily tasks become too difficult to carry out
- Within your working environment a suitable, lockable space should be made available for you as a pregnant employee, in which you can sit or lie comfortably if you need to rest
Once your maternity leave has come to an end and you have returned to work, you might need to breastfeed or express milk throughout the working day. During the first 9 months of a child’s life an employee has the right to be able to breastfeed or express milk during working hours. This may take up 1/4 of the working time per shift. An employer has the obligation to provide a suitable lockable space for this purpose, and payment will continue as usual.
Pregnancy leave & birth leave = maternity leave
The Dutch government strongly believes that it is in the best interest of the expectant mother and child to have enough rest before the expected delivery date. For this reason, maternity leave is actually divided into 2 parts:
- the first being pregnancy leave which has to commence between 6 and 4 weeks before the expected delivery date (in case of twins, leave has to start 10- 8 weeks before the expected delivery date)
- secondly, birth leave – the remaining 10-12 weeks once the child has been born
Maternity leave (total of 16 weeks or 20 weeks for multiple births) is, if employed, organised and coordinated between your employer and the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency in the Netherlands).
It’s important to inform your employer of your request for maternity leave at least 3 weeks before your maternity leave is to start (preferably a lot earlier). This is needed to allow enough time for your employer to complete a WAZO form (maternity and childbirth benefit form) and send this to the UWV on your behalf. In order to coordinate the maternity leave correctly for you, your employer will ask for a copy of your pregnancy declaration letter (zwangerschapsverklaring) that will be provided to you by your midwife/gynecologist. Based on this letter your expected delivery date can be determined and you can decide on your maternity leave dates. Once your leave dates have been determined and communicated, your employer will send the WAZO form onto the UWV, indicating the expected delivery date from which your maternity leave is expected to start and how the benefit should be paid out (this can be discussed together beforehand with your employer).
Salary and benefits during maternity leave
Usually, your employer continues to pay your salary as normal during your leave (and the employer receives compensation for this via the UWV), or it could be decided that the UWV will pay out the maternity leave benefit directly to your bank account.
However, it’s important to realize that the UWV will calculate your daily wage entitlement (dagloon), based on your SV-loon (the part of your salary over which you have paid taxes and social insurances). You are entitled to receive 100% of the determined dagloon as long as this does not go above the maximum daily wage as set by the UWV (currently set as € 228.76 per day). If you do earn more per day than the dagloon determined by the UWV, your employer may be willing to pay the difference out to you, but this is not obligatory.
Usually, your employer will issue you with a letter confirming the leave dates that you have decided upon, which will also confirm what your last day of work shall be before your maternity leave begins.
If the period of your maternity leave changes due to a late delivery for example (always entitled to 10 weeks of leave after the birth), the UWV will re-determine your maternity leave dates and benefit entitlement. This will be communicated to both yourself and your employer.
If you become ill as a result of your pregnancy near to the time that your maternity leave is due to start, your maternity leave may automatically commence 6 weeks before the estimated delivery date, regardless of the date on which you specified you wanted to start your leave. This is a regulation that has been put in place to make sure that both mother and child are rested and as healthy as possible before the birth.
If you become ill because of the birth, you may (depending on your circumstances) be entitled to receive a 100% sickness benefit once your official maternity leave has ended.
Partner leave in the Netherlands
Currently in 2022, if employed, the husband or recognized partner is entitled to 5 days of fully paid partner leave (pro rata if working on a part time basis) once their wife or partner has given birth. The leave has to be taken in the 4 weeks after the birth. The period and date can be agreed upon with the employer, and can be spread out over a period of 4 weeks or used all at once.
The husband or recognized partner should inform their employer as soon as possible of when they wish to take their partner leave, the employer cannot refuse the leave request.
If working via a temporary employment agency, the partner leave dates can be discussed with the manager where the assignment is being carried out and with the employment agency, as the official employer.
Alongside 5 days of paid partner leave, partners, if employed, are also entitled to take additional partner leave within the first 6-month period of the child being born. Additional partner leave can only be used after the first 5 days of paid partner leave have been taken. If taken, the additional partner leave must be a minimum of 1 week and can be up to a maximum of 5 weeks leave.
The employee needs to inform their employee of their wish to take additional partner leave. The request should be made known by submitting a letter or email and needs to be made known at least a minimum of 4 weeks before the leave is to commence. The request should be as clear as possible – stating exactly when the leave is to start and to end, and how many full weeks of leave are going to be taken for example.
Whereas the first 5 days of partner leave are fully paid via the employer, additional partner leave is coordinated by the UWV. The employer must inform the UWV of the impending additional partner leave request on time, the employee will then receive a benefit from the UWV, to a maximum of 70% of their determined dagloon (and cannot be higher than the maximum daily wage as calculated and set by the UWV, currently € 228.76 per day).
Can I take parental leave?
In the Netherlands, official parents and adoption/foster parents are entitled to take parental leave if in employment. Parental leave is currently set to a maximum of 26 x the number of the contractual working hours (e.g., if officially working 40 hours per week the employee has the right to 26 x 40 hours of parental leave = 1040 hours). It is generally unpaid and can be taken by both individual parents up until the child reaches the age of 8 years old.
Parental leave can be taken for each individual child, so for twins the parent has the right to take double the normal leave entitlement. The leave can be transferred from one employer in the Netherlands to the other and can be requested as soon as the employee starts a new position.
It is very common for a parent to take 1 day of parental leave per week, quite often for example taken on a Wednesday due to primary school children finishing earlier that day.
Salary, benefits and working conditions during and after parental leave
No salary is received, no holiday hours are accrued and more often than not, no pension is accrued over the hours that parental leave is taken. However, even though the employee is working less hours per week (perhaps 32 hours instead of 40) their official employment contract and position remain valid. Once the parental leave has come to an end the employee has the right to return to their official contractual hours. If the employee would like to officially work less hours upon the completion of their parental leave, a written request should be submitted to the employer at least 2 months before the requested change (several restrictions may apply – some of which being if the company has less than 10 employees, or if the employee has not been working for at least a minimum of 6 months). Should the employer declines the request, there has to be a very good reason to do so. If the request is approved a new contract concerning the official contractual working hours can be extended.
Important to realize: a new regulation shall come into place as from 2nd August 2022, making it possible for new parents to take a maximum of 9 weeks paid parental leave (9 weeks for each child if taking leave for twins) to a maximum payment of 70% of their determined dagloon (up to 70% of the maximum daily wage calculated and set by the UWV).
The employee does not receive a salary as such over the 9 weeks paid parental leave but instead has the entitlement to receive a parental leave benefit from the UWV. The new parent has the right to make use of this within the first year of the child’s birth. The remaining 17 weeks entitlement to parental leave is unpaid and can be used until the child reaches the age of 8 years old.
Employees should submit a request to their employer in writing/by email to take paid/unpaid parental leave at least 2 months in advance, informing the employer of how the leave is going to be taken. If the parental leave dates can only be determined after the birth of your child, make this clear in your communication.
Employers can only submit the paid parental leave request to the UWV once the leave has commenced, it is therefore very important that you discuss with your employer when the paid parental leave is going to start and how many weeks leave you are to take (employers can only submit a request to the UWV for whole working weeks). The paid leave dates can be flexible – the 9 weeks can be spread throughout the 1st year of the child’s birth or grouped together in 1,2 or 3 periods for example.
An employer cannot refuse the right to take parental leave, but they may discuss a possible change of dates/schedule with their employee if the requested leave schedule could cause some serious business or service risks, the change of planning would then be applicable for the whole duration of the parental leave.
What about adoption and foster care leave?
If an employee adopts or fosters a child, the employee is entitled to take leave for a maximum duration of 6 weeks. The leave can be taken in one block or spread over a 6-month period. During the leave the employee is entitled to receive an adoption/foster care leave benefit from the UWV (100% of the determined daily wage/ dagloon). It will also be possible as from 2nd August 2022 for parents to take 9 weeks of paid parental leave for adopted children or foster children as long as the children are under the age of 8 years old. This will only apply to the first year after the day of the actual adoption or placement.
We hope this article helped you understand what you’d be entitled to as a new parent. For more helpful advice on navigating the Dutch labour market, find related articles below.