Parental Leave in the Netherlands: English Guide 2024

Sofia Van Dirk

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The Netherlands, with its tulip-filled meadows and canal-lined cities, is not just picturesque but also deeply supportive of family life. While the laws and policies of parental leave in the Netherlands may initially seem overwhelming, especially when you’re adjusting to so many new things, we’re here to help.

We recognize the struggles you face, the questions you have, and the reassurances you seek. This guide aims to provide clarity, so you can confidently step into this new chapter of life, knowing that you’re informed and supported. Let’s embark on this journey together to demystify parental leave in the Netherlands for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Netherlands offers flexible and supportive parental leave policies for new parents.
  • Eligibility for parental leave extends to both birth and adoptive parents, with specific guidelines.
  • Communication with employers and thorough documentation are pivotal when applying for leave.
  • Balancing work and family life in the Netherlands is facilitated by flexible hours, work-from-home opportunities, and a plethora of support resources.

The Basics of Parental Leave in The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the commitment to nurturing family life is evident in its generous parental leave policies. This commitment isn’t just a legal one but also a reflection of Dutch values that prioritize family bonding and well-being. Here’s what you need to know:

Maternity Leave (Zwangerschapsverlof)

This is specifically for expectant mothers. It begins up to 6 weeks before the baby’s due date and continues for at least 10 weeks after the birth. The combined maternity leave typically covers 16 weeks, ensuring that the mother has ample time to rest before and bond with her newborn after delivery.

Paternity/Partner Leave (Geboorteverlof)

A relatively new change but one that underscores the importance of shared parenting responsibilities. Partners (including fathers, same-sex partners, or co-habitants) are entitled to take a short leave after the birth of their child. This leave has undergone some revisions in recent years, reflecting a progressive approach towards inclusive parenting.

Parental Leave (Ouderschapsverlof)

This goes beyond the initial days following a child’s birth. Both parents have the right to take additional unpaid time off to care for their child up to their eighth birthday. It’s a flexible system, allowing parents to spread this leave in a manner that suits their family’s unique needs.

Eligibility for Parental Leave

parental leave in the netherlands

For many expatriates, the first question is often, “Am I eligible?” Here’s a compassionate breakdown of the eligibility criteria, ensuring that you’re well-prepared to make the most of this special time:

For Maternity Leave (Zwangerschapsverlof)

Any expectant mother working in the Netherlands, irrespective of her nationality or the length of her employment contract, is eligible for maternity leave.

It’s essential to notify your employer at least three weeks before you wish to start your maternity leave, typically around the 34th week of pregnancy.

For Paternity/Partner Leave (Geboorteverlof)

Partners are eligible if they are employed in the Netherlands, regardless of their contract’s duration or type.

The leave should be taken within four weeks following the child’s birth.

It’s worth noting that recent expansions in paternity leave rights aim to recognize the importance of all caregivers in a child’s early life.

For Parental Leave (Ouderschapsverlof)

To avail this, one must have a work contract with their employer.

Parental leave can be requested for any child up to the age of eight.

The beauty of this leave is its flexibility; it can be adapted based on mutual agreement between you and your employer, fitting the unique rhythm of your family life.

For international job seekers or those on specific expatriate contracts, there might be nuances in the application of these guidelines. It’s always a good idea to have an open conversation with your employer or HR department, seeking clarity and understanding.

Duration and Payment During Leave

Amidst the endearing firsts – the first kick, the first cry, the first smile – you shouldn’t have to be clouded with uncertainties about the length of your leave or your financial entitlements. Here, we delve into the specifics, ensuring you’re cushioned with both clarity and reassurance.

Maternity Leave (Zwangerschapsverlof)

Duration: A total of 16 weeks. You can begin this leave up to 6 weeks before your expected due date, ensuring the remaining weeks are taken post-birth. If you decide to work closer to your due date, the unused weeks are added to the post-birth period.

Payment: During maternity leave, the benefits are paid out by the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency). You will receive a wage replacement up to a certain maximum amount. This is usually 100% of your daily wage, but it’s essential to confirm with your employer and the UWV.

Paternity/Partner Leave (Geboorteverlof)

Duration: As of recent regulations, partners are entitled to one workweek off immediately after the birth. Additionally, they can take up to five additional weeks within the first six months of the child’s life.

Payment: For the first workweek, partners typically receive their full salary. For the additional five weeks, the UWV provides a wage replacement, which is up to 70% of the daily wage, capped at a specific maximum amount.

Parental Leave (Ouderschapsverlof)

Duration: Parents have the right to take up to 26 times their weekly working hours over a period until the child turns eight. The distribution of this leave is highly adaptable. For instance, one could opt for one day off each week for 26 weeks or spread it out in other ways.

Payment: This leave is generally unpaid. However, some collective labor agreements or generous employers might offer partial payment, so it’s worth checking with your HR department.

Leave TypeDurationPayment
Maternity Leave16 weeks100% of daily wage (up to a set maximum)
Paternity/Partner Leave5 working days (Immediate) + 5 additional weeksAt least 70% of last-earned wage
Parental Leave26 times the weekly hoursUnpaid, but with job security

Applying for Parental Leave

The process of applying for parental leave, with its intricacies and unfamiliar terminology, might seem like deciphering a foreign code. But, take a deep breath. We’re here, extending a hand, to guide you with empathy and care, ensuring each step feels a tad bit simpler and a lot more manageable.

Notifying Your Employer

Maternity Leave: Ideally, around the 25th week of your pregnancy, it’s recommended to inform your employer about your pregnancy and the expected due date. This allows both you and your employer ample time for preparations and necessary adjustments.

Paternity/Partner Leave: It’s wise to inform your employer as soon as possible about your intention to take partner leave. While spontaneous situations might arise with childbirth, a heads-up can aid in smoother transitions at the workplace.

Parental Leave: There’s more flexibility here. You should ideally provide your employer with a two-month notice, detailing when and how you intend to take this leave.


Gather the necessary paperwork.

For maternity leave: A pregnancy declaration from your doctor or midwife is essential. This document mentions the expected due date, serving as an official confirmation of your pregnancy.

For paternity/partner leave: A birth certificate or adoption papers might be required to validate the claim.

Open Communication

While rules and policies set the framework, your unique situation as an expatriate or international job seeker might entail nuances. Establishing open channels of communication with your employer or HR department is invaluable.

Discuss any concerns, seek clarifications, and be open about your needs and constraints. More often than not, understanding and flexibility can emerge from these candid conversations.

Using the Digital Platforms

In the age of digitalization, the Netherlands offers online platforms where you can initiate and track your parental leave applications. While it might initially seem daunting, especially if Dutch isn’t your first language, there are English-guided versions and helplines to assist you.

Related: International Schools in The Netherlands (2023 Guide)

Balancing Work and Family Life

Amidst the excitement of new beginnings, the challenge of balancing work and family life emerges, particularly for new or expecting parents.

Flexible Working Hours

The Dutch work culture is known for its progressive approach to work-life balance. Many employers offer flexible working hours, allowing you to adjust your schedule based on your family’s needs. Don’t hesitate to discuss these options, ensuring both your professional tasks and parental duties are seamlessly managed.

Work From Home Opportunities

Even before the global shift towards remote working, the Netherlands had embraced the concept of working from home. This can be a boon for parents, helping you juggle those crucial meetings and your child’s first steps, all in the comfort of your home.

Childcare Facilities

The Netherlands boasts high-quality childcare facilities, known as ‘kinderopvang’. Many of them have programs tailored for expatriate families. Exploring these options not only ensures that your child receives quality care but also introduces them to cultural diversity from an early age.

Shorter Workweek

It’s not uncommon in the Netherlands for people to work four-day weeks. This additional day can be a blessing, allowing for quality family time, doctor visits, or just those precious moments of relaxation.

Parent Networks

Engaging with other parents, especially expatriates, can provide invaluable support. They offer advice, share experiences, and often help in navigating the Dutch system. Remember, the shared experiences of parenthood unite people beyond borders and languages.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If at any point, the balancing act feels overwhelming, consider seeking counseling or coaching services. The Netherlands has a plethora of professionals specializing in helping expatriates manage their unique challenges.

Related: New To The Netherlands: Everything You Need To Know 2023

Additional Resources

Your local municipality is a treasure trove of resources. From information on local childcare to workshops for new parents, they offer a plethora of services designed to support you.

While primarily in Dutch, many parenting websites, such as ‘Ouders van Nu’, offer valuable insights into Dutch parenting norms and practices. Fear not the language barrier; translation tools and plugins can make these sites accessible and informative.

Centers like ACCESS offer counseling services tailored to the needs of expatriates. Their team understands the unique challenges you face and provides guidance on everything from emotional well-being to practical parenting tips.

  • There are several insightful books that discuss the nuances of Dutch parenting and family life. Works like “The Happiest Kids in the World” by Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison can offer both practical tips and heartwarming anecdotes.


Do I have to take all my parental leave at once?

No, you don’t. The beauty of Dutch parental leave is its flexibility. You can spread your leave in a way that aligns best with your family’s needs, as long as it’s taken before the child turns eight.

Is there support for non-Dutch-speaking parents in the Netherlands?

Absolutely! The Netherlands, with its rich tapestry of cultures and languages, offers numerous support systems for non-Dutch-speaking parents. From expatriate groups to English-speaking childcare centers, the country ensures you’re embraced and understood.

How do I handle any disagreements or concerns with my employer regarding leave?

Open communication is vital. Approach your HR department with your concerns, and if needed, seek guidance from local labor unions or expatriate support groups that can provide advice or mediation services.

Can both parents apply for parental leave simultaneously?

Yes, both parents are entitled to parental leave and can choose to take it simultaneously if they wish. It’s about crafting a schedule that works best for your family.

What happens if I face discrimination at work due to pregnancy or parental leave?

Discrimination based on pregnancy or parental status is against the law in the Netherlands. If you face such issues, it’s crucial to document instances and reach out to legal entities or associations that can guide and support you.

Are there community centers or groups where I can meet other expatriate parents?

Certainly! The Netherlands is home to several community centers, expatriate groups, and associations where you can connect, share, and find camaraderie with other expatriate parents. These spaces often become lifelines, offering support and warmth.

I’m feeling overwhelmed with the changes. Where can I seek emotional support?

It’s completely natural to feel this way. The Netherlands offers numerous counseling and well-being centers tailored for expatriates. Reaching out, seeking help, or even just sharing can be a balm to the soul.

ABOUT Sofia Van Dirk

Sofia van Dijk is our resident Relocation Expert at Born and raised in the Netherlands, Sofia possesses extensive knowledge of Dutch culture, local customs, and the practicalities of living in this unique country. She studied International Relations at the University of Amsterdam and spent several years working for an international relocation company before joining our team.

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