New rules on holiday entitlement in the Netherlands

As from 1 January 2012, new legislation regarding holiday entitlement will come into force in the Netherlands. The legislation imposes a new, shorter period within which  statutory holiday must be taken and removes the current limit on accrual of holiday for sick employees.

New limitation period

According to Dutch law, the statutory minimum holiday entitlement is 4 times the agreed number of working hours or days per week, e.g. 20 days per year on the basis of a five-day working week. However, many employers grant their employees additional vacation days over and above the statutory minimum. These days are referred to as “the additional days”.

Under current legislation any accrued but untaken holiday lapses 5 years after the calendar year in which it accrued.

From 1 January 2012, employees will have to take accrued but untaken statutory holidays arising from 1 January 2012 within 6 months of the end of the calendar year in which they have been accrued. If they fail to do so,  the holiday will, in principle, lapse. So, by way of example, statutory holidays accrued in January 2012 may lapse, if they remain untaken,  on 1 July 2013.

This six month limitation period will not apply if an employee has not had a reasonable opportunity to take the statutory holiday. It also does not apply to additional days, the limitation period for these additional days remaining unchanged at 5 years after the calendar year in which they have been accrued.

Holiday entitlement for sick employees

Currently, Dutch law provides that employees who are absent from work due to sickness only accrue holiday entitlement in the last six months of sickness absence. Under the new legislation, holiday accrual will not be limited in this way. Thus, from 1 January 2012, sick employees will accrue holiday during the whole period of sickness absence and not only during the last six months of sickness.