Amount of holidays per year

Dutch law makes a distinction between statutory and non-statutory holidays. Statutory holidays are the minimum number of holidays the employee is owed based on the law. Non-statutory holidays are the holidays an employee is granted atop the statutory holidays, for example in the employment contract or a collective labour agreement.

Statutory holidays

Dutch law requires that an employee is granted a minimum of 4 times the number of hours worked per week, meaning the employee can take 4 full weeks of holiday. During holidays the employee is owed their regular salary. 

Statutory holidays should be taken within 6 months after the calendar year in which they were acquired. So, if an employee still has statutory holidays on December 31st 2022, they can take these before June 31st 2023. After that, the holidays expire. Employers should warn their employees to take up their holidays before they expire.  

Non-statutory holidays

Unlike statutory holidays, non-statutory holidays expire 5 years after they have been accrued. 

Another difference is that non-statutory holidays may sometimes be traded for salary or for sick days. This needs to be agreed in writing and is not possible for statutory holidays.

National holidays

National holidays are separate from the above mentioned holidays. They are in principle not owed by the employer. This can be different if a national holiday has been named as such in the employment contract, the handbook or the collective labour agreement. In that case, the employee is free on the specified national holidays. These holidays will not be subtracted from the statutory holidays or non-statutory holidays.

Taking holidays

The employee informs the employer in writing of the date and period of their desired holiday(s). The employer can only refuse in writing within 2 weeks after the request and only if they have substantial reasons to do so. This will usually not be the case. The employer should also take into account that the employee should at least be given the opportunity to take 2 subsequent weeks of holiday. Holidays are taken in hours, not in days, meaning that an employee can for example take half a day off if they wish to do so.

An established holiday is not easily undone. The employer can only undo the established holidays for substantial reasons, like a sudden peak of work or sick employees. In that case the employer should compensate the costs of possible cancellations that are a consequence of undoing the established holidays.

Designating holidays

The employer cannot simply force the employee to take holidays. However, it is possible for employers to designate a few days as holidays ahead of time. A condition for this is that the right of the employer to select certain holidays as compulsory holidays and the amount of holidays that this counts for should be included in writing in the employment contract or handbook. Sometimes it is included in the collective labour agreement. Compulsory holidays should also be announced well in advance.

Sickness and holiday

If the employee gets sick during their holiday, they should inform their employer. These days will then be counted as sick days and not as holidays. The employee can then take the holidays at another time.

An employee that is already sick, is also entitled to holidays. A sick employee who takes up holiday has no re-integration obligations during this holiday. When the employer disagrees with the requested holiday of the sick employee, he can ask the company doctor to assess whether there are medical objections against the suggested holiday. Usually this is not the case.