4.5 million Dutchies work only part-time, but waarom?

About half of all those working in the Netherlands, or 4.5 million people, are not working full-time. What is the reason behind these Dutch habits, and should we do anything to change them? 🤔

The Netherlands is currently in a bit of a labour dump (despite the low unemployment rate), with a critical shortage of workers in several sectors. So you’d think lots of people would be forced to work extra hours to keep the country running… Not the Dutch! 

Who works part-time in the Netherlands? 

Of the 4.5 million Dutch people working part-time, a baffling 3 million of those are women, writes NU.nl

That might be tied in with the fact that two of the sectors most prone to part-time working schedules are healthcare and education — both traditionally female profession areas. 

However, trade, transport, and government also rank high on the Dutch part-time scale and are typically more male-dominated sectors. In other words, it cannot all be sector- or gender-dependent. 

READ MORE | Lost your job in the Netherlands? What you need to know about Dutch employment law [2022]

Another (rather unsurprising) sector dominated by the part-time wave is catering. That’s likely due to the nature of the catering industry, which is usually timing dependent and brings in a high number of people gravitating towards catering as a second-income or side job. 

Why do Dutch people work part-time?

Women overrepresented

One of the most cited reasons behind the high number of Dutch women working part-time is social pressure connected to childcare. Women mostly take care of house and family matters in the Netherlands, sometimes by choice and sometimes as a result of societal expectations. 

Quite groundbreakingly, the Dutch government is planning on introducing (basically) free daycare for children, which might contribute to women working more full-time in the long run. 

Just a couple of years ago, the OECD reported that as much as 60% of all working women in the Netherlands worked less than 30 hours a week, and the Dutch government estimates that 1 in 6 Dutch women are not financially independent as a result. 

Taxes and allowances 

Another reason Dutch people might choose to work part-time is for money reasons. Yeah, it sounds a bit strange, but the logic is that some would rather receive support and allowances from the government and pay fewer taxes than work full-time.

READ MORE | Unemployment benefit in the Netherlands: what you need to know [2022]

In order to be eligible for certain financial arrangements, you cannot be employed full-time (duh). 

Waarom not?

Some play the culture card when explaining the Dutch working habits and simply say, “it’s what we’re used to, so that’s how we do it”.

The Dutch are certainly suckers for a good tradition, so it’s pretty believable that the high number of part-time employees is simply caused by social structures and norms. 

Others might bring up that people who have a low number of monthly expenses and/or a high amount of savings in the bank don’t feel the need to work their butts off if it’s not necessary. 

After all, it’s pretty chill not to work full-time if you have the means to avoid it, right? Dutch people might be called lazy, sexist, or exploited by countries with more intense work schedules, but we say they’re onto something (at least in some aspects).

What do you think of the Dutch part-time employment culture? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Freepik
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.

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