Is the 9-5 dead in the Netherlands?

So, you’re looking for a job in the Netherlands. You’re probably wondering — am I going to be stuck in the office Monday to Friday, nine to five? Good question. Thankfully, we have all the answers!

The Dutch have a slightly different outlook on working life than other countries. In 2019, the Netherlands ranked as the best country in the world in terms of work/life balance. 

In 2022, this attitude remains. This means that, if you are working in the Netherlands, you can expect a little less work and a little more play. 

The average work week in the Netherlands

Across the world, it’s been mostly accepted that the average work week is somewhere between 35 hours and up to 50 hours a week.

However, in the Netherlands, this number varies more between an average of 35-40 hours a week. That being said, you could actually find yourself working even less! Terrific news for us couch potatoes (and anyone who works to live, not vice versa)! 🥔

With more time off, Dutch couples have extra time to spend together. Image: Unsplash

Let’s talk about stats, baby

According to data from The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average number of hours Dutch people worked in 2021 was 1,416.5 hours

Sounds like a lot at first, right? But actually, this works out at just 28.3 hours worked per week, if we take into account a two-week break during the year. 

Holiday leave in the Netherlands

We couldn’t forget those holidays! In the Netherlands, the number of leave hours an employee is due is four times the amount of weekly working hours. 

For example: If you work four days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM, you’ll be owed a grand 128 hours of annual leave!

Get those bags packed, because, with such a good work/life balance, you may well find yourself at the beach a few more times a year. 🏖

READ MORE | Vacation, free time and working hours in the Netherlands: all you need to know

However, the thing about averages is that they’re just that; averages. But don’t let your hopes dampen just yet! 

Across the board in the Netherlands, most people can expect to be working no more than 33 hours per week

Looks like people are ready to say goodbye to stuffy office cubicles! Image: Unsplash

There’s always an exception — working in Dutch hospitality and retail

Yet, though most Dutch workers can expect to work less than the 50-hour weeks employees in other countries face, there’s one catch to it — hospitality and retail jobs!

The thing with the typical 9 to 5 is that, well, you’re working from nine to five every day. If you’re working in a restaurant, bar, or even a clothes shop, your hours are going to (naturally!) differ. 

The dreaded 9 to 5 is a myth to most hospitality workers. Image: Pexels

So, while people in offices might be out by 4 PM on a Thursday afternoon, the people working in late-night bars or coffeeshops haven’t even clocked in yet. 

The nature of hospitality and retail jobs is that they operate on a changing shift schedule. In the office, you might be scheduled to work 9 AM to 5 PM Monday to Friday every week, but in these industries, your roster can change week to week. 

In most cases, the normalised 9 to 5 is a myth to employees in these industries — but even if you’re new to the Netherlands, we expect you already knew this. 😉

The Dutch and the four-day work week

Ah, the much-rumoured four-day work week. An item of jealousy across the world. 

But, is it a made-up story fabricated to draw employees to the land of cheese, stroopwafels, and windmills?  Or is it a real thing?

Four-day work week plus a longer weekend equals more sociable workers! Image: Pexels

Well, we here at DutchReview can confirm that the four-day work week is a real thing! Most of us work on a four-day-a-week basis, and we even have a hybrid working policy. That means we work some days in the office and some days from home! 

And, we’re not alone in this; while it’s not completely universal, many companies in the Netherlands are now offering a four-day work week to their employees.

Benefits of the four-day work week; less work, more play

Why do we work like this? It’s easy. Say hello to a longer weekend and pumped-up, energised writers. 🥂 

And we have the receipts to prove it! According to a 2021 study carried out by the Christian National Trade Union Federation (CNV), more than 1 in 5 workers in the Netherlands are facing burnout due to work stress and overworking. 

This increased burnout is a big reason behind practices such as the four-day work week. 

READ MORE | For health and productivity — could the Netherlands see a shorter work week?

With fewer hours, employees would have more time to rest (😴), which means they come into the office ready and excited for the week ahead! 

Less stress, more success

Fewer hours with less stressed employees means a higher productivity rate. 

Major companies in the Netherlands have tried and tested this theory, including Dell. When trying out the reduced work week, productivity went up by 20-30%

With more time off, the Dutch have the chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy family life. Image: Unsplash

Art Shectman, CEO at Elephant Ventures, who also trialled the four-day work week, tells Dell, “there’s a magical feeling at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday nights when you’ve been off for two days your body and then your brain kicks in thinking work is the next day and you realize you’re off tomorrow as well—you just have this feeling of elation and joy.”

We get you, Art. 

With such a huge difference in productivity levels, as well as general enthusiasm from employees, it won’t be long until more and more Dutch companies hop on this practice too! 

Countries that offer the four-day work week 

In February 2022, Belgium introduced a new policy that allowed workers to be entitled to a four-day work week. 

READ MORE | Can I work in the Netherlands? Complete guide to work permits and visas to land a Dutch job

Outside of Belgium, there are many countries that offer four-day work weeks across the world. This includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, and more. 

COVID-19 changed the way the Dutch (and countries all over the world!) treat remote work 

Due to increased awareness of possible health concerns, the Netherlands went into a country-wide lockdown — but the work didn’t stop!

Hundreds of companies moved to remote work in 2020. Now in 2022, many of these have kept remote working or hybrid work policies. 

COVID-19 meant that a lot of employees found themselves working from home. Image: Unsplash

This is nothing new to Dutch people, seeing as there has been a policy in place since 2016 allowing employees to request to work from home. 

READ MORE | Netherlands ranked the seventh best country for remote working, study finds

Plus, the Dutch seem to really enjoy working from home. A survey in 2020 showed that 60.8% of employees working from home agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they were satisfied with their experience working from the comfort of their home office (or sofa). 

How did this affect the Dutch 9-5?

Remote work, or hybrid work, also redefines the idea of the usual nine to five.

Though you might be technically working from 9 AM to 5 PM, working from home cuts out the dreaded commute from home to the office, making it that much more bearable.

READ MORE | Working from home in the Netherlands: the complete guide

Roll right out of bed and into your office (which is not-so-secretly also your bed 🛌💤) and enjoy all the wonders of working from home. 

This is what your ‘office set-up’ could look like! Image: Unsplash

Be ready to constantly ask yourself questions like “what will I make for lunch today?” and “why are my neighbours always staring at me?” 

So, is the 9 to 5 dead in the Netherlands?

The unfortunate answer is no, the nine to five is not dead. 

While the four-day work week and availability for remote work is becoming more and more popular, that doesn’t mean that the nine to five is completely gone. 

Most job postings out there still ask for employees to work on a full-time basis of 36-40 hours per week, and, though it’s nice to think our average 28.3-hour work week is the same across the board, this isn’t always the case. 

READ MORE | Part-time work, Full-Time fun! Dutch Women work the least hours in Europe

It’s also important to take into account that almost half of those registered as employed in the Netherlands work part-time. That’s 4.5 million people! 

So, with so many people working only part-time, that’s sure to throw statistics off a little bit. As the Dutch say, helaas pindakaas! 

That being said, the typical dreary nine to five is definitely on the way out. With an increased opportunity to personalise working hours and better working conditions, people have more and more options. 

Do you think the 9 to 5 in the Netherlands is dead? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image:Unsplash
Heather Slevin
Heather Slevin
Heather is a Dublin native, addicted to catching the Luas, the Irish version of a tram, for one stop, and well used to the constant rain and shine. Seeking to swap one concrete city for another (with a few more canals and a friendlier attitude to cyclists) here she is with the Dutch Review! As a Creative Writing student, she can usually be found sweating over the complicated formatting of her latest poem or deep inside the pages of a book, and loves writing, writing, writing.

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  1. I’m told the 4 day work week is mostly for couples living together. Is there any truth to this? If someone is living alone, on a 4 day work week or even part-time, does that provide them with a livable wage on their own? I know some people with disabilities that would like this arrangement, but don’t if that’s true.


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