The Dutch Senate passed the Modernisation of Leave and Working Hours Regulations Bill on 16 December 2014. The idea behind this legislative change was to make it easier for employees to combine work with care responsibilities. To accomplish this, the bill amended the Work and Care Act and the Working Hours (Adjustment) Act. Most of the amendments took effect on 1 January 2015.
The following is a summary of the major changes:
More flexible parental leave (effective 1 January 2015)
Employees can ask to take parental leave in any way desired. The employer must agree to this. The employer can only object to the way in which the parental leave is taken if there are compelling business interests. The employee need no longer have worked one year before taking parental leave. In addition, the law now provides that, if the employee changes employers, the employee will retain his/her right to the remaining portion of parental leave.
Expansion of partner leave (effective 1 January 2015)
Partners will now be entitled to three days of unpaid leave in addition to the current two days of paid paternity leave. This leave must be taken during a four-week period after the paternity leave. This partner leave cannot be denied and is to be deducted from the entitlement to parental leave.
Change in maternity leave (effective 1 January 2015)
Employees may claim additional maternity leave if their newborn child is hospitalised, insofar as such hospitalisation lasts more than seven days, up to a maximum of 10 weeks. After six weeks, women can also divide the rest of the maternity leave in various segments within a 30 week period, unless there are compelling business interests. If the mother dies, the remaining maternity leave and benefit rights will be transferred to the partner.
Clarification of emergency and other short-term absence leave (effective 1 January 2015)
The text of the regulations governing emergency and other short-term absence leave was amended to clarify when this can be claimed.
Change in adoption and foster care leave (effective 1 January 2015)
The period in which the employee can take adoption leave has been increased from 18 to 26 weeks. The duration of the leave is still four weeks. This change applies to foster care leave as well. Unless there are compelling business interests, the employee himself/herself can decide how this leave will be taken. At present, the leave still has to be taken during a single consecutive period.
Change in working hours (effective 1 January 2015)
An employee can submit a request for a change in working hours every year, instead of once every two years. If there are unforeseen circumstances, a renewed request can even be made earlier.
More flexible long-term care leave (effective 1 January 2015)
The statutory limitations on spreading out and taking long-term care leave have been withdrawn. The employee can now take the leave in any desired form, as long as the employer does not have any compelling business interests precluding this.
Extension of circle of persons entitled to short- and long-term care leave (effective 1 July 2015)
Care leave may not only be taken to care for a parent, child or partner, but also for a family member related to the second degree, a housemate or – under certain conditions – other persons with whom the employee has a social relationship.
Extended maternity leave if the mother is pregnant with more than one child
Women who are pregnant with more than one child will receive four weeks of extra leave. This provision will take effect during the course of this year; the exact date has not been determined yet.