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Maternity leave, parental leave and partner leave in the Netherlands

Updated: Jun 22

Mother with daughter and a new born

As a parent or guardian in the Netherlands, it's possible that you might not have the most up-to-date information regarding your entitlements to different forms of leave, including maternity leave, partner leave, parental leave, or adoption/foster care leave.

In general, parents/guardians in the Netherlands have access to several types of leave that allow them to care for their children. The availability of these leaves often depends on various factors: Are you an official resident? Are you currently employed in the Netherlands, and if so, for how long? It's important to note that if you are self-employed, your eligibility for certain benefits may be restricted.

This article aims to provide you with valuable insights into the different types of leave mentioned earlier, ensuring you are well-informed about your rights and options.

Pregnancy in the Netherlands

To qualify for paid maternity leave in the Netherlands, you must meet certain criteria. Firstly, you need to be a legal resident and either employed, self-employed, or receiving unemployment or a sickness/wage-related return-to-work benefit. Typically, maternity leave spans a minimum of 16 weeks with full pay. However, if you're expecting twins or a multiple birth, the leave can be extended to a minimum of 20 weeks with pay.

During your pregnancy while working:

  • Your employer is responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for you.

  • You have the right to take additional breaks throughout the day if necessary.

  • Depending on the advice of a company doctor, you may be allowed to work fewer hours than your normal schedule to minimize complications.

  • If your regular job tasks become too challenging during pregnancy, you have the right to perform alternative tasks. This entitlement extends until six months after giving birth.

  • Your workplace should provide a suitable, lockable space where you can comfortably sit or lie down when needed.

Once your maternity leave concludes and you return to work, you may require time for breastfeeding or expressing milk during the day. For the first nine months of your child's life, you have the right to breastfeed or express milk during working hours, up to 1/4 of your shift's duration. Your employer must provide an appropriate lockable space for this purpose, and your payment continues as usual.

Mother kissing foot of baby

Maternity leave

The Dutch government places great importance on ensuring that expectant mothers and their babies have sufficient rest before the expected delivery date. As a result, maternity leave in the Netherlands is divided into two parts:

  • Pregnancy leave: This leave must begin between 6 and 4 weeks before the anticipated delivery date (or between 10 and 8 weeks before for twins).

  • Birth leave: This refers to the remaining 10-12 weeks of leave after the child is born.

If you are employed, your maternity leave (16 weeks or 20 weeks for multiple births) will be organized and coordinated by your employer in collaboration with the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency in the Netherlands).

It is crucial to inform your employer about your maternity leave request at least 3 weeks prior to the intended start date (although earlier notice is preferable). This allows your employer enough time to complete a WAZO form (maternity and childbirth benefit form) and submit it on your behalf to the UWV. To properly coordinate your maternity leave, your employer will ask for a copy of your pregnancy declaration letter (zwangerschapsverklaring), which will be provided by your midwife or gynecologist. This letter helps determine your expected delivery date and enables you to finalize your maternity leave dates.

Once your leave dates are established and communicated, your employer will send the WAZO form to the UWV, indicating the expected delivery date as the starting point for your maternity leave. You can also discuss with your employer how the benefit should be paid out before submitting the form.

Benefits during maternity leave

During your maternity leave in the Netherlands, there are two possible scenarios regarding the payment of your salary:

  • Your employer continues to pay your salary: In this case, your employer receives compensation from the UWV. Your salary will be paid as usual, and your employer will handle the reimbursement process.

  • The UWV pays the maternity leave benefit directly to your bank account: Alternatively, it can be arranged for the UWV to directly pay the maternity leave benefit to you.

It's important to note that the UWV calculates your daily wage entitlement (dagloon) based on your SV-loon, which refers to the part of your salary subject to taxes and social insurance contributions. You are entitled to receive 100% of the determined dagloon, as long as it does not exceed the maximum daily wage set by the UWV (currently €228.76 per day). If your daily earnings exceed the calculated dagloon, your employer may choose to supplement the difference, but this is not mandatory.

Your employer will typically provide you with a letter confirming the agreed-upon leave dates, including your last day of work before maternity leave begins.

In the event that the duration of your maternity leave changes due to a late delivery or other circumstances, such as always being entitled to a minimum of 10 weeks of leave after the birth, the UWV will reassess your leave dates and benefit entitlement. This information will be communicated to both you and your employer.

Pregnancy or birth related illness

In the Netherlands, if you fall ill due to pregnancy-related reasons close to the scheduled start of your maternity leave, your leave may automatically commence 6 weeks before the estimated delivery date. This regulation ensures that both the mother and child have sufficient rest and optimal health before childbirth, regardless of the previously specified leave start date.

Furthermore, if you experience illness as a result of the birth itself, you may be entitled to receive a 100% sickness benefit once your official maternity leave period concludes. The eligibility for this benefit depends on your individual circumstances. It is designed to provide support and financial assistance during the recovery period following childbirth.

Family reading a book on the floor

Partner leave

In 2022, if the husband or recognized partner is employed, they are entitled to 5 days of fully paid partner leave (pro rata for part-time work) following the birth of their child. This leave must be taken within 4 weeks after the birth and can be used as a continuous block or spread out over a period of 4 weeks. The specific dates can be agreed upon with the employer.

The husband or recognized partner should inform their employer of their intended partner leave as soon as possible, and the employer cannot refuse the leave request. If the partner is employed through a temporary employment agency, the leave dates can be discussed with the assignment manager and the employment agency, as they are considered the official employer.

In addition to the 5 days of paid partner leave, partners who are employed have the right to take additional partner leave within the first 6 months after the child's birth. However, this additional leave can only be taken once the initial 5 days of paid partner leave have been utilized. The duration of the additional partner leave must be a minimum of 1 week and can extend up to a maximum of 5 weeks.

To request additional partner leave, the employee needs to inform their employer in writing (letter or email) at least 4 weeks before the desired start date. The request should clearly state the start and end dates of the leave, as well as the number of full weeks to be taken.

While the first 5 days of partner leave are fully paid by the employer, the coordination of additional partner leave is handled by the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency). The employer must inform the UWV in a timely manner about the upcoming additional partner leave request. The employee will then receive a benefit from the UWV, which amounts to a maximum of 70% of their determined dagloon (subject to the maximum daily wage set by the UWV, currently €228.76 per day).

Parental Leave

In the Netherlands, employed parents and adoption/foster parents are eligible to take parental leave. The maximum duration of parental leave is calculated based on the number of contractual working hours. It is set at a maximum of 26 times the number of contractual working hours. For example, if an employee works 40 hours per week, they would be entitled to 26 x 40 hours of parental leave, totaling 1040 hours. Parental leave is generally unpaid.

Both individual parents can take parental leave until the child reaches the age of 8 years old. Each child is considered separately, so in the case of twins, the parent has the right to take double the normal leave entitlement. It is possible to transfer the parental leave entitlement from one employer to another within the Netherlands, and employees can request parental leave as soon as they start a new position.

It is common for parents to take 1 day of parental leave per week, often choosing Wednesdays due to primary school children finishing earlier on that day. This allows parents to spend quality time with their children and accommodate their school schedules.

Salary, benefits and working conditions

During parental leave, no salary is received, and holiday hours and pension accrual may not apply. However, the employee's official employment contract and position remain valid even if they are working fewer hours per week during this period. Once parental leave concludes, the employee has the right to return to their original contractual hours. If the employee wishes to officially work fewer hours after parental leave, they must submit a written request to the employer at least 2 months before the requested change. Some restrictions may apply, such as if the company has fewer than 10 employees or if the employee has not been working for a minimum of 6 months. The employer can only refuse the request with a valid reason. If approved, a new contract with adjusted working hours can be established.

It's important to note that a new regulation will be implemented from August 2nd, 2022. Under this regulation, new parents will be able to take a maximum of 9 weeks of paid parental leave (9 weeks per child in the case of twins). The payment will be up to 70% of their determined dagloon, not exceeding 70% of the maximum daily wage set by the UWV.

During the 9 weeks of paid parental leave, the employee will receive a parental leave benefit from the UWV instead of their regular salary. This benefit can be utilized within the first year after the child's birth. The remaining 17 weeks of parental leave entitlement are unpaid and can be taken until the child reaches 8 years of age.

Employees must submit a written or email request to their employer at least 2 months in advance, specifying whether the leave will be paid or unpaid. If the exact dates of parental leave can only be determined after the child's birth, it should be clearly communicated to the employer.

Employers can only request paid parental leave from the UWV once the leave has commenced. Therefore, it's crucial to discuss with the employer the start date and duration of the paid parental leave. The 9 weeks can be spread throughout the first year of the child's birth or taken in grouped periods based on the employee's preference.

While an employer cannot refuse parental leave, they may discuss potential changes to the requested dates or schedule if it poses significant business or service risks. Any changes made to the schedule will apply for the entire duration of parental leave.

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.


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