Every employee has a right to go on holiday. But how is paid holiday leave accrued and arranged in Dutch employment law?
HOW MANY HOLIDAYS DOES AN EMPLOYEE HAVE?
Paid holiday leave exists in two forms: statutory holidays and non-statutory holidays. In Dutch employment law, employees have the right to the equivalent of their weekly hours times four in days of paid holiday leave annually. This means that a fulltime employee has the right to twenty days of paid holiday leave per year.
On top of that, an employer can decide to grant the employee more than the amount of statutory holidays. These are so called non-statutory holidays. Usually an employer will arrange this through the employee contract.
WHEN DOES AN EMPLOYEE ACCUMULATE HOLIDAYS?
As long as the employee is working regularly hours, he will accumulate holidays. However, if payment to the employee is suspended, the accumulation of holidays also stops.
There are a few exceptions to this basic rule: the employee will accumulate holidays even though payment is suspended if he engages in union activities or if payment is suspended due to parental leave or long term care leave.
Sick leave does not suspend the accumulation of holidays under Dutch law. The number of holidays in the event of sick leave is equal to the number of holidays that the employee would accumulate under normal circumstances.
HOW LONG CAN EMPLOYEES CLAIM THEIR HOLIDAYS FOR?
Under Dutch law, the right to claim staturory holidays expires after 6 months have passed since the last day of the year they have been accumulated. For example: holidays that have been accumulated in December 2020 will expire on the 1st of July 2021.
Non-statutory holidays do not expire, but the right to claim them is subject to a statute of limitations of 5 years. This means that the employee will have to make a claim in writing within 5 years to claim non-statutory holidays.
CAN AN EMPLOYEE EXCHANGE HOLIDAY LEAVE FOR PAYMENT?
Employer and employee can agree to exchange holidays for payment. This is only possible for non-statutory holidays. Statutory holidays cannot be exchanged for payment during employment.
In case of termination of the employment, it’s possible to exchange both statutory and non-statutory holidays for payment. This usually happens within the realm of the final payment made to the employee. In this case, all accumulated holidays have to be valued according to the last salary of the employee, even if they were accumulated during a time at which the employee received a lower salary.
WHO DECIDES WHEN AN EMPLOYEE CAN TAKE DAYS OFF?
In principal, the employee decides when he wishes to use his holidays by simply informing his employer. If the employer does not respond at all to the request of the employee within two weeks, the request is automatically approved. In some business sectors, holiday periods are standardised. These periods are usually agreed upon in a CLA (i.e. for the construction sector). If the proposed holiday of the employee poses a problem with regard to the functioning of the business, an employer can limit or refuse the holiday request.