Everything you need to know about maternity leave in the Netherlands in 2024

Expecting an addition to the family? Gefeliciteerd! 🎉 Let’s have a look at your future maternity leave and what you can expect around the time of giving birth in the Netherlands.

Maternity leave in the Netherlands is divided up into “pregnancy leave” (zwangerschapsverlof) and “child-birth leave” (bevallingsverlof) to distinguish between the time before and after you bring a new life into this world. 💓

Luckily, in the Netherlands, new moms have quite good conditions for maternity, so let’s take a look, shall we?

The basics of maternal leave in the Netherlands

First things first: If you are employed when you get pregnant, you are automatically entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks of maternity leave. This is true even if you’re self-employed!

You’re pregnant! Time to start thinking about your pregnancy leave. Image: Depositphotos

These 16 weeks are made up of six weeks of “pregnancy-leave,” and 10 weeks of “birth-leave.”

If you’re having twins, triplets, or any amount of multiples, you are entitled to a total of 20 weeks (10 pre-birth, and 10 post-birth).

How to apply for Dutch maternity leave

Taking your maternity leave in the Netherlands can be done at any moment from ten (in case of multiple) to six weeks before your due date.

If you take your so-called zwangerschapsverlof (pregnancy leave) later than six weeks before giving birth, your extra weeks will be added to your bevallingsverlof (childbirth-leave). 🤱

However, in all cases, it is mandatory to take leave by week 36 (four weeks before birth). This gives you at least 12 weeks of maternity leave after the baby is born. In special cases (such as premature birth), the leave starts counting from the moment of birth.

To begin your maternity leave, you need to inform your Dutch employer at least three weeks in advance, meaning at least seven weeks prior to your due date.

It’s important to let your employer know about your maternity leave in due time. Image: Unsplash

Let op! The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) can ask for a pregnancy statement up to one year after the end of your maternity leave. So, request a statement from your midwife or GP and keep it for your own administration.

How much can you expect to be paid during your maternity leave in the Netherlands?

Throughout your maternity leave in the Netherlands, you’re entitled to 100% of your earnings, based on your average wage over the past year.

However, the Dutch government will only cover a maximum of €256,54 per day in 2023.

READ MORE | 9 things to expect as an expat mother in the Netherlands

Luckily, if your wage is higher, a Dutch employer will often choose to supplement the government benefit even though they are not obliged to.

Fathers and partners get a much more raw deal — they are only entitled to one week of fully paid paternity leave, and five additional weeks of partially paid leave.

Parental leave in the Netherlands

In addition to maternity leave, there is also parental leave (ouderschapsverlof), where both parents are entitled to take a maximum of 26 times their working hours.

This time can be distributed in different ways, and can be taken until the child turns eight.

Thanks to “ouderschapsverloof,” parents get more free time to spend with their child. Image: Depositphotos

So, for example, let’s say you work 40 hours: you are entitled to 26 x 40 = 1040 hours (130 eight-hour days).

You may take this leave all in one go, or, more commonly, take one day a week (the famous mamadag or papadag) for two years and a half or so (counting 52 weeks a year).

Dutch people with both sets of grandparents who are able and willing to help with childcare have a good deal. One day with mom, one day with dad, one day with maternal grandparents, one day with paternal grandparents. 🙌

This means the kid would only need to spend one day at daycare (which is subsidised when both parents work).

For international parents, without help from family, it’s a whole other story — but at least the subsidy for daycare still applies. 🙆‍♀️

What are your experiences with maternity leave in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Amanda Steck
Amanda Steck
I am a Mexican girl, born to a Swiss father and married to a Dutch guy, living in The Netherlands for 9 years (oh how time flies!). I have a background in Biology and Veterinary medicine and a passion for travel, writing, baking, reading, discovering bookshops jumping around like crazy and red dresses. I also blog at Poppies and Ice-cream.


  1. Parents are lucky in the Netherlands??? Go check the German law, it’s much better…. I don’t understand why people try to hide that it’s really bad here. People should be against this ridiculous 16-weeks leave and put pressure on the government!

    • I guess the author doesn’t have any kids and doesn’t know how bad the mat leave conditions are in NL. The article mentions about how good the mamadag and papadag are but doesn’t mention that you also get no salary on that day… People think it’s a paid day but no, you get no money for the day that you don’t work

  2. This must be written from a US point of view where you don’t get anything if you don’t work. For all other countries the mat leave laws are just outrageous. I really don’t understand how the Netherlands have such a high birth rate with these bullshit conditions…

    • Totally agree. Coming from Norway myself and having a Dutch partner with whom I am currently living in the Netherlands, I have made one completely unnegotiable demand: that we move to Norway before having children and stay there at least until they reach school age. It’s a completely unacceptable idea for me to have only 16 weeks of paid leave (and only a few weeks for him) and then having to pay absurd amounts of money for daycare if we both want to pursue our careers. No thanks – we’ll be taking our 49 weeks of fully paid leave and close to free fulltime daycare in Norway instead!

  3. It is one of the worst xountriest in Europe when it comes to maternity leave. Why would you say we are lucky to have 16 weeks? That is nothing when yoir whole life changes.

  4. Are you guys sure that just the woman that is working for more than one year is entitled to maternity leave?
    ” If you are employed when you get pregnant (and have been so for a year) you are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave ”

    So, if she is not working for at least one year, how long is the maternity leave ?

  5. What if my income is higher than 200 a day? Also I read about parental leave somewhere, it’s 20+ weeks I think but wasn’t explained well..is it paid?

    • Hi Milka, did you get any responses on that? I’m in the same boat and hearing that Dutch companies pay the difference but I work for a start-up who never had a pregnant person so trying to build my case.

    • Where are you from? USA? Sorry but Netherlands is not realy good example when it comes to maternity leave. Check Norway, Austria, Croatia…

  6. It’s incredibly frustrating to say, “100% pay, capped at €223.40 per day”…that’s NOT 100% THEN!!

  7. Do we consider National holidays like Christmas for the calculation of the maternity leaves – i.e. does the maternity quota goes up from 16 weeks to additional days (including national holidays)ex: 16 weeks + Christmas + Whit Monday etc.

    or do we simply calculate 16 weeks (pre-delivery + post delivery)

  8. Netherlands has the worst support for new mothers across the globe. UNICEF also advocates 6 months of maternity leave, as it is important for the development of the child. However, with a limited 16 week leave, which must start 4 weeks before the due date (which to me seems like a complete waste of my time of sitting around waiting for the baby and doing nothing), it’s really at the pathetic end of the maternity scale. Your additional leave is limited in terms of the pay you get. The grocery costs have risen significantly, the energy costs have doubled in price, the daycare costs are crazy here and there is no support from government in terms of the maternity leave. For an expat, this is one of the worst country to have kids. Even a country like Poland, which is much less developed than NL offers 1 year of maternity leave, including other developing countries like India which offer at least 6 months of leave. Quite angry at the Dutch government for taxing so high and not being supportive of females.

    • Hi Vinnie! It would be 16×7. I.e. if you only work two days in a week normally, you won’t get 16*5 days off. Hope that helps!


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