The Netherlands is getting more and more leave: ‘We are modernizing’ | NOW

Employees in our country are increasingly assertive when it comes to extra days off. The number of vacation days in collective agreements remains the same and people can make use of all kinds of arrangements, such as parental leave and the right to work part-time.

The labor shortage is currently unprecedented. The workload is rising, absenteeism is increasing and various sectors are desperate for additional professionals. But even then there are countless schemes that employees can use to get extra time off.

For example, since 1997 parents have been entitled to unpaid parental leave until their child is eight years old. This leave is a maximum of 26 times the number of hours of their working week. Since 2 August, they can take nine working weeks of paid parental leave and receive a benefit from the UWV for this.

“There are indeed a number of leave regulations in our country. But as soon as you fall outside of this, that does not apply,” says Ruben Houweling, professor of employment law at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Employers’ association AWVN notes that the number of days off for employees has increased in recent years due to all kinds of leave schemes. “An employer cannot refuse that, so both parties will come to an agreement in consultation. Or there must be a compelling business interest,” says a spokesperson.

‘Work pressure is already high in various sectors’

The AWVN has no concrete figures, but sees that the number of holidays agreed in collective labor agreements is not decreasing. “And all those leave schemes come on top of that. That creates even more work pressure, which is already high in many sectors due to the tight labor market.”

In addition to all the arrangements, we are also European champions of part-time work in our country. Of the 9.4 million people registered as employed in the first months of this year, just over 4.9 million are working full-time. Exactly 4.5 million workers do not, according to figures from the CBS statistics agency.

Women in particular (about three million) work part-time. Most part-timers are active in sectors such as catering, trade and transport. Relatively many people also work part-time in healthcare, education and the government.

‘Waited way too long’

According to Ton Wilthagen, professor of the labor market at Tilburg University, with the introduction of all kinds of regulations we are modernizing the labor market that has been delayed for far too long.

“If you offer people more flexibility, they are also willing to work more in the long term. We have a lot of people who work, but the number of hours is just small. Work must be made attractive. That is already happening in Scandinavian countries, for example.”

The introduction of leave schemes will eventually lead to people working more hours, says Wilthagen. “Employees now feel like a squeezed lemon because everything is squeezed into a shorter working week. It is of course also about the choices that employers make which tasks should be performed. But macro-wise, all those arrangements are good. Now that the man can also take parental leave, does the employer see that the woman is coming back to work.”

Adaptation: Above an earlier version of this story was a different headline. It has been modified to do better justice to the story.