Becoming a father? Here’s everything you need to know about paternity leave in the Netherlands in 2024

What an exciting time! Are you becoming a father soon, or hoping for it in the near future?

Here’s our guide to paternity leave (vaderschapsverlof) in the Netherlands: what your rights are, how much time you get, and whether it’s paid or not.

Paternity leave in the Netherlands: the basics

First things first, how much time off can you take?

Well, in the Netherlands, paternity leave (or partner leave, both of which are referred to by the Dutch government as geboorteverlof) is weirdly short. New fathers generally only receive one week of paternity leave after their partner gives birth.

While short, Dutch paternity leave is at least flexible. Image: Josh Willink/Pexels

If that seems a bit hectic, you can, also request additional birth leave on top of the existing paternity leave you’re entitled to. In order to do so, you’ll have to:

  • take out paternity leave
  • decide what date you want your leave to start
  • know how many whole weeks you’ll need
  • have a plan about how many weeks you’d like to spread this leave (eg: paternity leave every day for a few consecutive weeks, or a few days of paternity leave each week spread over several weeks)

As such, even though you need to start taking this time off within six months of the baby’s birth, it doesn’t need to be right after they are born. You could, for example, decide to take your five weeks of leave after the maternity carer leaves.

Ultimately, you’re entitled to five weeks of paternity leave (vaderschapsverlof), for which you get 70% of your regular pay. However, you could even get full pay if your employer is willing to supplement it.

Other options for taking paternity leave in the Netherlands: paid holiday leave

There are other options for fathers and partners who want more than five weeks’ leave. Some will arrange with their employer to take paid holiday leave after the child is born.

Paternity leave gives fathers much more time to spend with their new babies. Image: Freepik

Of course, that’s also not likely to be a lot of time, but in combination with the five weeks at 70% of your regular pay, it might be enough to make the difference.

Some companies extend paternity leave in the Netherlands

Despite government regulations being pretty minimal in terms of what they require companies to provide, there is a growing trend in the country that provides new fathers with greater assistance.

More and more individual companies in the Netherlands are deciding to give their employees extended leave when they become parents.

For example, ING offers fathers one month of paid leave, and the possibility to take three months’ worth of unpaid leave to support their partners. 💪

After paternity leave in the Netherlands: parental leave

What about after paternity leave is over? Well, then you can take parental leave (ouderschapsverlof).

Some conditions apply, such as:

  • you’re the official parent of your child
  • you’re the adoptive/foster parent of your child, and they live at the same address as you according to the BRP (Personal Record Database)
  • your child is under 8 years old
Parental leave helps ease the load at home, and facilitates bonding with the new child. Image: Freepik

Since August 2, 2022, employees in the Netherlands have been entitled to 9 weeks of partially paid parental leave.

This entails that parents will be paid up to 70% of their daily wage, under the condition that they take this leave 9 weeks into the first year of their child’s life.

Some employers will cover part of the salary the parent would have earned without that leave, but they are not obligated to do so under Dutch labour law.

On the bright side, at least you have an excuse for not helping them with maths homework. 😉

Paternity leave in the Netherlands as a self-employed person

What happens if you’re self-employed?

While maternity-leave takers who are self-employed have the right to paid leave, their partners are completely out of luck.

Male ZZPers in the Netherlands got the short end of the stick when it comes to parental leave. Image: Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels

There is no provision for leave for self-employed dads in the Netherlands, unless you have staff working for you.

That means that you will need to have your own savings if you want to take any leave at all to be with your partner and new baby.

Paternity leave in the Netherlands: why most men don’t take it

In 2019, we wrote about the ways workplace culture can interfere with men taking paternity leave and spending time with their families. It turns out that very few men actually apply for paternity leave.

Rutgers hypothesised that the reason behind this was pure societal expectation: women are expected to take leave when they give birth, but men are not — which makes it all the more difficult for those who want to take leave to do so.

There is a big ‘take it or leave it’ culture among potential paternity leave takers, and some men are also afraid to ask their bosses for fear of being seen as awkward.

What are your experiences with the Dutch paternity leave system? Tell us in the comments below! 

Feature Image:Freepik
Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.

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  1. I will become a father in May 2020, before the new changes come in to effect in July 2020. Will I be entitled to the new 5 weeks of paternity leave at 70% pay?

    • Hi Jack,

      I’m curious if you got an answer to your question? With paternity leave changing again in august of 2022 I’m curious if it only applies if the child is born after august 2022


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