Jan Dop


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Work and Care Act: types of care leave

Publication date 15 August 2023

On the basis of the Dutch Work and Care Act, employees in the Netherlands are entitled to different types of leave: maternity leave and birth leave, adoption leave and foster leave, paternity leave, emergency leave, and long-term and short-term-care leave. A collective agreement may stipulate other rules for leave than the ones stated in the law. As employees are entitled to these types of leave, the employer may only refuse leave in very exceptional circumstances.

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The Work and Care Act (Wet Arbeid en Zorg, WAZO) stipulates the employees’ entitlement to different types of care leave. The Work and Care Act also provides for the conditions these types of leave are subject to, such as means of application, income during leave, etc. The goal is for employees to be able to combine work and private life better. It is advisable to include a list of the different types of care leave in a staff manual, so that it is clear to employees what they can expect.

In this article, the types of care leave will be discussed:

Maternity leave and birth leave

Regarding childbirth, female employees are entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks maternity and birth leave. At their own discretion, they can start the leave between six and four weeks (or between ten and eight weeks in the event of a multiple birth) before the estimated delivery date. After childbirth, the employee is entitled to ten weeks birth leave plus the number of days the maternity leave was less than six weeks (or ten weeks in the event of a multiple birth). After six weeks, the employee can, upon request, spread the remaining four weeks (over a maximum period of 30 weeks). If the mother passes away during childbirth, the entitlement to the remaining paid maternity leave will be passed to the partner.

The employee is subject to a notification obligation: the employee must notify the employer three weeks before taking the maternity leave and no later than the second day after the delivery. During the maternity leave and birth leave, the employee is entitled to a UWV benefit of 100% of the daily wage (but it may not exceed the maximum daily wage).

Adoption leave and foster leave

In connection with adoption or taking in one or more foster children, employees are entitled to a maximum of six continuous weeks of leave – to be taken up within 26 weeks. The entitlement to adoption leave and foster leave starts four weeks before adoption or fostering. Upon request, the employee can spread out the leave.

The employee must notify the employer of the leave and the reasons for the leave no later than three weeks before the leave is to start. During adoption or foster leave, the employee is entitled to UWV benefits of 100% of the daily wage, that must not exceed the maximum daily wage.

Paternity leave (also: Partner leave)

The partner of a new mother is entitled to one week of paid birth leave that is to be taken within four weeks after the childbirth. The employer has to be notified of such leave and the reasons have to be stated. Attending the birth falls under emergency leave.

In addition, there are also five weeks of additional leave that can be taken within six months after the childbirth. During these five weeks, the partner is entitled to UWV benefits amounting to 70% of the daily wage, provided that this is not exceeding 70% of the maximum daily wage.

Parental leave

Employees are entitled to unpaid parental leave of a maximum of 26 times the working hours per week for each child under eight. Thus, an employee with a full-time job is entitled to 26 weeks of parental leave. The employee must notify the employer in writing of the intention to take parental leave at least two months in advance. Parental leave can also be spread out. However, the employer can change this spread out leave periods up to four weeks before the intended commencement due to serious business or service interests.

Part of the parental leave is paid leave. If employees take this leave during the first year of a child’s life, they will be entitled to payment of 70% of their salary for a period of 9 weeks. The same rule applies when adopting a child or taking in a foster child, provided the child has not yet reached the age of 8 years.

Emergency leave

Employees are entitled to paid calamity leave for urgent, unexpected or exceptional personal circumstances, for instance if their partner gives birth or because of a death within the family. The employer has to be notified of such leave as soon as possible and the reasons have to be stated.

Short-term care leave

Employees may take short-term care leave up to twice the weekly working time for the necessary care of (inter alia) a sick partner, child or parent. This necessity does not just concern care itself but also the fact that precisely this employee will offer care (the employee is the only person who can provide the care and, for instance, the partner cannot provide it). Regarding a full-time job this will amount to a maximum period of two weeks.

The employer has to be notified of such leave as soon as possible and the reason for the leave, its scope and how the leave will be taken must be stated. The leave does neither commence nor terminate if the employer objects to it due to serious business or service interests for which the interests of the employee must make way. During the leave, the employer will pay 70% of the salary, but at least the statutory minimum wage. In the event that emergency leave and short-term care leave overlap, the emergency leave will end after one day.

Long-term care leave

In addition to short-term care leave, employees are also entitled to unpaid long-term care leave for the (necessary) care of (inter alia) a (seriously) ill partner, child or parent. The leave is a maximum of six times the weekly working hours, which amounts to a maximum of six weeks for full-time jobs.

At least two weeks before the commencement of the leave the employee has to submit a written request to the employer, stating the reasons, scope, and proposed duration of the leave and the distribution of hours over the week. The request can only be denied for such serious business or service interests the interest of the employee must make way for. If the request for long-term care leave will be granted, potential short-term care leave preceding it can be considered fully or partly as long-term care leave upon the employee’s request.

Please note: the Work and Care Act rules may be deviated from with regard to birth leave, parental leave, emergency leave and short-term and long-term care leave in a collective agreement (in favour of or to the detriment of employees). Therefore, make sure to check the collective agreement which might be applicable to your company.

More information?

Do you have any other questions regarding the different types of care leave and the conditions for the entitlement to these types of leave? Or do you want to include a list with the types of leave applicable to your company in your staff manual? Please contact us:

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