FAQs: Holiday Allowance & Paid Holidays in the Netherlands.

This article is designed to have easy access to all frequently asked questions about holiday allowance and paid holidays in the Netherlands. Whether you are a business owner, HR professionals or a local resident understanding the country’s paid holiday scheme is essential.

In this concise overview, we address common questions and provide clarity on these important aspects of Dutch employment law.

This article is frequently updated to incorporate new questions as they are submitted.

1. What are statutory holidays [Wettelijke vakantiedagen]?

By law, the minimum number of Dutch holidays to which employees are entitled each year is four times the number of working days a week. In the case of a full-time employment (pro-rated working part time), the employee is entitled to a minimum of 20 holidays per year (4 x 5 working days a week).

The holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December. If an employee starts or finishes the employment part way through the holiday year, the holiday entitlement during that year shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

2. What are non-statutory holidays [Bovenwettelijke vakantiedagen]?

The non-statutory holidays vary per type of industry in the Dutch market. On average, most companies have agreed on 5 non-statutory holidays.

These non-statutory holidays in the Netherlands are additional vacation days on top of the statutory holidays. The regulation is often described in the Employee Handbook or, if applicable, in the Collective Labour Agreement [CAO].

The total vacation days for employees on a full time-employment (pro-rated working part-time) are 25 days (20 statutory days + 5 Non statutory days) per year.

The holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December. If an employee starts or finishes the employment part way through the holiday year, the holiday entitlement during that year shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

3. When do holiday days expire and how many days be carried over to the next year?

Statutory holidays in the Netherlands expire six months after the calendar year in which an employee has accrued them. Statutory holidays from the previous year, therefore, expire on July 1st of the following year.

Non-statutory holidays are valid for five years. The employee can therefore save these days for a longer period and, for example, take an extra-long holiday once every five years.

4a. Which days are official public holidays in the Netherlands?

Dutch public holidays are more than just days off work; they are celebrations that bring communities together, steeped in history and cultural significance.

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • King’s Day (27 April)
  • Liberation Day (5 May) is a public holiday. It is common practice to have this day off once every five years (e.g., 2025, 2030 etc.) but the company could decide to diverge and agree to set this day each year as a public day off.
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Sunday
  • Whit Monday
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • Boxing Day (26 December)

No Dutch law mandates that employees must be given a day off on specific public holidays. Therefore, there is no legal entitlement to time off on these days. Whether employees have a day off on public holidays will be specified in the Collectieve Labour Agreement or Employee Handbook.

4b.What is the Dutch holiday every 5 years?

Liberation Day (5 May) is a public holiday. It is common practice to have this day off once every five years (e.g., 2025, 2030 etc.) but the company could decide to diverge and agree to set this day each year as a public day off.

5. What is a popular holiday in the Netherlands?

Each year, the Netherlands celebrates its largest event on April 27, known as King’s Day.” Festivities take place nationwide, with everything and everyone adorned in orange, the colour of the royal family, the “House of Orange.”

6. What is holiday allowance?

By Dutch law, every employee is obliged to receive 8% holiday allowance [vakantiegeld] over the previous 12 months regular gross salary earned. The definition of the gross salary for holiday allowance calculation is the gross salary including overtime pay, but excluding benefits (bonus, allowances etc.).

Pay out to the employee has to be by minimal 1 instalment per year. In general, the holiday allowance is paid in May, sometimes in June.

If the company has a Collective Labour Agreement, it could be possible to deviate from this ruling – however the holiday allowance percentage can never be lower than 8%, higher is of course possible.

On the moment the gross monthly or annual salary is agreed with an employee subject to Dutch legislation, then on top of this gross salary comes 8% holiday allowance. Please make sure in the employment contract it is clear if the salary is including or excluding the 8% holiday allowance. Without this stated, the employee is still entitled to the holiday pay, despite possible agreements.

7. Is holiday allowance taxable in the Netherlands?

Holiday allowance, similar to bonuses and other annual components of the employee’s salary, is subject to a special tax rate [2024]. This means that it is taxed, with the tax rate varying based on the employee’s gross salary.

8. Holiday requests in the Netherlands, how does it work?

Request and procedure of holidays should be done officially by the employee to the employer.

The process, guidelines and the timing should be described in the Employee Handbook or Collective Labour Agreement of the company. Make sure the request is easy to find in order to clarify any misunderstandings and to prevent labour conflicts.

9. Is it allowed to buy and sell (pay out) holiday days in the Netherlands?

By Dutch law it is not allowed to sell statutory holiday days, only the non-statutory holidays can be sold. Companies are allowed to introduce their own scheme, as long as it does not conflict with the law and/or Collective Labour Agreement. The purchase for the additional days is acquired out of the employee’s salary.

In some instances vacation days are paid out to the employee:

  1. At the dismissal or termination of employment; in agreement all remaining vacation day(s) may be paid out.
  2. During the term of the employment contract, but only if this has been agreed in the employee’s contract or in the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

10. What are the leaves of absence types?

Leaves of absence are regulated under the Work and Care Act  [Wet Arbeid en Zorg, WAZO] in the Netherlands. This Act defines the right to leave and the right to payment. Read more about all types of Leaves of Absence in the Netherlands.

11. What leaves of absence types are influencing the vacation days?

  • Employee on maternity leave/pregnancy leave: accrual of vacation days will continue during that period of leave.
  • Employee on partner leave: accrual of vacation days will continue during that period of leave.
  • Employee on parental leave, the weeks paid by the UWV: accrual of vacation days will continue in that period of leave. The other weeks of parental leave is unpaid leave (as it currently is): no holidays will be accrued during that period of time.
  • Employee on sick leave: accrual of vacation days will continue during that period of leave.

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