Sick leave in the Netherlands: the easy guide for 2024

From sniffles to being struck down 🤧

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Coughs, splutters, headaches, injuries, burnout, and chronic illnesses: all things that might force you to take sick leave in the Netherlands. 🤒

But before you call in sick to your Dutch workplace, you’re probably not quite ready to give up a day’s wages just yet. 

No stress! Unlike other countries (cough, the US, cough!) the Netherlands understands that part of being human is falling ill — so your time off sick is generally paid. 

READ MORE | 10 things to know before finding work in the Netherlands as an international

But how much, when, and how often? Great questions! Here’s what you need to know about sick leave in the Netherlands. 

We’re lean, mean, writing machines who never get sick (right boss?). Just kidding! But we did turn to the experts in recruitment in the Netherlands, Undutchables, to write this article. They’re the pros when it comes to finding a great Dutch job (that will let you take sick leave). Want a Dutch job? Search for it here! 🔎

🤔 How does sick leave work in the Netherlands?

Sick leave (ziekteverlof) in the Netherlands is surprisingly simple: if you are sick, you are paid a minimum of 70% of your wage. 

If 70% of your wage would put you below minimum wage, you’ll receive minimum wage instead. 

However, it is common for Dutch workplaces to pay more than 70% (woo!). In fact, most of them will pay up to 100% for the first year of being sick. The amount you will receive will be detailed in your employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. 

Tip: Are you ill because of childbirth, pregnancy, or organ donation? First, sorry you feel unwell. But also, congrats: you’ll receive 100% of your wages. That should help make you feel better!

Waiting days

Some Dutch workplaces include “no-pay waiting days” (loonvrije wachtdagen) — these are the first one or two days of your sickness when the employer is not obliged to pay wages. 

This refreshes every four weeks, so if you become sick on February 1, and are sick again two weeks later on February 14, you don’t need to sit out your waiting days again. 

Check your contract or your collective bargaining agreement to see if you have a waiting day clause. 

How much sick leave can you claim?

Here’s the great thing about sick leave in the Netherlands: unlike other countries where you might have, say, 10 days of sick leave, in the Netherlands, you can claim sick leave from your employer for up to two years

Of course, no one wants to spend two years sick. But it is great peace of mind knowing that if the worst does happen, losing your income isn’t something you’ll need to worry about.

You have our full permission to go back to bed if you look like this. Image: Depositphotos

If you’re still sick after two years, your employer doesn’t have to continue paying your wages.  However, you will likely become eligible for a benefit from the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency). This is an autonomous government authority that deals with labour law. 

Who gets sick leave?

You get sick leave, and you get sick leave, and you get sick leave! 

Most people are eligible for sick leave in the Netherlands. Naturally, however, it depends on how you are employed. 

Not employed in the Netherlands just yet (or want a new job?)? We can fix that! Check out Undutchables job search, where you can find jobs in the Netherlands based on the language(s) you speak. 

Permanent contract

This is the easiest: you’ll be paid a minimum of 70% of your wages by your employer for a maximum of two years. 

Temporary contract

This works the same as the above: a minimum of 70% of your wages paid by your employer for a maximum of two years. 

If your contract expires while you’re sick, your employer will (naturally) stop paying your wage. Instead, you’ll be passed over to the UWV who will continue to pay your wages and help you re-enter the workforce. 

Even if you’re not a full-time employee you should still get sick days. Image: Depositphotos

If you’ve been sick for more than six weeks when your contract expires, you and your workplace will prepare a reintegration report outlining what the issue is and what they have done so far to help you reintegrate to work. 

On-call, zero-hour, and min-max contracts

If you work on one of the above contracts, it works a little differently. Generally, if you become ill in the middle of your shift, you’ll be paid 70% of your wages until the end of your shift. 

If you remain ill after a shift, your employer won’t pay any wages unless you are on a min-max contract. Instead, you’ll be referred to the UWV. 

Freelancers (ZZPers)

Gosh, it’s great being your own boss — until you fall sick, of course. If you’re a freelancer, the only sick leave you’ll generally receive is what you can afford to pay yourself. 

Otherwise, it’s worth taking out illness and/or disability insurance from the UWV. You’ll pay a set premium per month, but you’ll be covered if the sick hits the fan. 

⏰ What if I’m sick for a long time?

Has your sickness gone beyond a sniffle? Then you’ll probably need a bit more time off — and that’s okay!

Provided you’re on a permanent or temporary contract, you don’t really have to stress. You’ll continue to be paid a minimum of 70% of your wages for a maximum of two years.

In the Netherlands, you won’t be forced to get back in the office before you’re ready. Image: Depositphotos

After two years, you may become eligible for disability benefits from the UWV. 

Returning to work after being sick

The Netherlands places a lot of emphasis on sick leave being a recovery period so you can return to work. 

If you’re sick for a long period, you and your employer will draw up a reintegration plan. Yes, that means a lot of boring paperwork — but at least you’ll get paid!

The reintegration plan includes a: 

  • problem analysis,
  • action plan,
  • first-year evaluation,
  • current opinion of the company doctor or health and safety service, and
  • final evaluation (you complete this together with your employer).

🏝️ What if I’m sick while on holiday?

Fighting the flu in France? Battling a bug in Britain? Struck down with an STI in Spain? 

What a waste of your hard-earned vacation time!

But have no fear: working for a Dutch company is here! And working for a Dutch company means one nifty thing: you can claim being sick on holiday as sick leave, instead of holiday leave. 

Save that holiday leave for a time when you aren’t feeling like this. Image: Depositphotos

That means that if you planned your holiday, flew to your magical destination, and then got sick, your planned vacation days can be converted into sick days. 

READ MORE | 7 ways a Dutch job is different

To take advantage of this, typically you’ll need to: 

  • report your illness to your employer as soon as possible and at least within 24 hours,
  • provide an address and/or telephone number where you can be reached,
  • reach out to a doctor at your holiday location and keep evidence of it,
  • advise if you can’t travel home due to sickness and keep evidence as to why you cannot travel,
  • contact your employer when you return home and potentially be consulted by the company doctor. 

Rough that you’re sick on vacation — but at least you can reallocate those vacation days for later! 🏝️

👨‍👩‍👧 Maternity and partner/paternity leave in the Netherlands

Got a notification from PostNL that you have a little bundle of joy on the way? Wat leuk! 

While maternity and paternity leave aren’t considered sick leave in the Netherlands, here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect.

READ MORE | Everything you need to know about maternity leave in the Netherlands

If you’re pregnant, you have a right to at least 16 weeks of leave. This is typically taken as six weeks of pregnancy leave before the due date and at least 10 weeks of maternity leave after childbirth. 

If you’re the partner of someone giving birth, you get a minimum of one week off in the first four weeks after the birth. During this time, you’ll be paid 100% of your salary. 

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

As a partner, you can also choose to take extended partner leave. This is up to five weeks of unpaid leave in the first six months after birth. During this time, you can claim benefits from the UWV for up to 70% of your salary. 

In addition, it’s also possible to take up to 26 unpaid weeks of parental leave until the child is eight years old (and even apply to have nine paid weeks at up to 70% in the first year)!

Got a question about sick leave in the Netherlands? Discuss it in the comments below!

Sick leave in the Netherlands: Frequently asked questions

How many sick days do you get in the Netherlands?

How do I ask for sick leave in the Netherlands?

Can I get sick leave for burnout in the Netherlands?

Can I get sick leave if I am depressed in the Netherlands? 

Do I need a doctor’s note to call in sick to work in the Netherlands?

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).

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  1. Cau your boss insist on you working whiles the doctor told me I can work from. 6weeks?
    I broke my finger and was operated and the doctor said I can start work from 6weeks and its been 2weeks from the operation and everytime my boss calls me that I have to start working

  2. Wow, I am surprised that Holland has any business operators at all, particularly small business operators. I wonder who wants to grow food, or build houses?

    • I totally agree with you, Sharon!!! “I had to sneeze while putting widgets on a top shel because of the dust and I am probably infected now.” Four weeks later, “ I am stressed about going back to work.” Six weeks later. “I’m depressed because I haven’t been to work in so long.” A year later! “ I am burned out!!” Ten years later on holiday in Spain. “My UWV automatic deposit payment is a day late. What the hell is this country coming to?”

  3. I totally agree with you, Sharon!!! “I had to sneeze while putting widgets on a top shel because of the dust and I am probably infected now.” Four weeks later, “ I am stressed about going back to work.” Six weeks later. “I’m depressed because I haven’t been to work in so long.” A year later! “ I am burned out!!” Ten years later on holiday in Spain. “My UWV automatic deposit payment is a day late. What the hell is this country coming to?”

  4. What happens if you are on long term sick leave but you have holiday leave (paid time off) booked during that time, that you requested before you got sick? Should you cancel the holiday leave?

  5. I have mental illness and i tried suicide, the police and the hospital help me, i was working good and my world was just destroyed, i have appointment to ggz, the company say i have to go back to work, and i only can think is why so much health people in benefits and i can’t go to streets or hear any loud sound, i lose 20kg in one month, i psychological instable, and i have to go there, i don’t have any condition. I don’t go because if i go i will kill myself in that place.


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