Holiday allowance and vacation days in the Netherlands

Holiday allowance and vacation days in the Netherlands

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Payingit International provides a wide range of services for expats, including payroll management, visas, permits, IND sponsorship, and tax arrangements. 

One of the perks of working and living in the Netherlands is that by law an employee must receive holiday allowance and vacation days. Because of these perks, you will see your Dutch co-workers disappear in the months between June and September for weeks at a time. You might also notice that everyone will be very enthusiastic about their payslips in May. But how does holiday allowance actually work?

Holiday allowance

Holiday allowance in the Netherlands is a gross payment of 8% of your total gross salary. This amount is usually built up during your employment period in the months June to May. Employers are obligated to pay this 8% holiday allowance to their employees. The Dutch word for holiday allowance is “vakantiegeld”, a word you will certainly remember, since you will be hearing it a lot when you work with Dutch colleagues!

The idea behind holiday allowance

Holiday allowance was introduced in the Netherlands in the 1920s in order to stimulate workers to go on vacation and was conceived as a sort of paid leave. But back then, travelling abroad used to be very expensive and in the 1960s, holiday allowance became an extra payment on top of your salary and was paid in May. This extra payment made it easier to take a nice trip during the summer.

The idea behind paying it in May is that employees will feel encouraged to start planning a trip when receiving money for that purpose before the summer has actually started. Leaving for a vacation trip is, according to the Dutch system, good for you as a person and will result in better performance at work. However, what you spend your holiday allowance on is up to you. You can save it, buy something, or you can spend it on a nice trip.

An example

Let’s take a look at an example of holiday allowance. If you earn a gross salary of 4.000 euros per month for a whole year, you will get a holiday allowance of 3.840 euros, in addition to your regular salary in May.

The calculation looks like this: €4,000 x 12 = €48,000. The 8% holiday allowance of this total amount is €48,000 x 8% = €3,840.

This means that if you earn 4.000 euros a month, you will get a total sum of (wait for it!) 3.840 euros in the month of May. Now that is an incentive to plan a trip!

Important note!

Please be aware that some employers choose to spread out the payment of holiday allowance over 12 months, instead of once per year. That would mean that you earn a higher monthly salary and do not get that nice big salary payment in May. Please discuss this with your employer in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Vacation days

In addition to the holiday allowance that will arrive in your bank account, you also have the right to take paid vacation days in the Netherlands!

When working full-time, you are entitled to a minimum of 20 paid vacation days per year. This means you do not have to work for 20 days, but you get paid anyway.

You can decide how and when to take your 20 vacation days. You may get more than 20 days, but never less; sometimes a collective Labour Agreement prescribes 24 or 25 vacation days.

An important note about vacation days

Another important note is that vacation days can never be swapped for additional pay. This means that you always have the right to those days off! The number of vacation days you are entitled to depends on the number of days you work per week, month, and year.

Read your employment agreement

Please check your employment agreement carefully to be sure about your holiday allowance and vacation days. If you are confused by the Dutch system, please do not hesitate to contact us! We’ll be glad to help you understand this important topic.

Time to start planning

So, have you already planned a vacation trip? Then we wish you a great vacation! In case you haven’t thought about it - May is here so maybe it is time to spend some of your hard-earned money.

Are you curious about the effect of the holiday allowance on your gross salary? Calculate your take-home amount using this handy dandy payroll calculator from Payingit International!

If you have any questions about holiday allowance and vacation days or would like to ask for advice about something, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Payingit International:  



Leave a comment

Vincenzo Andolfo 20:57 | 7 May 2018

Note! Not all company pay vacation in May....

PimBouwmeester 15:12 | 12 June 2018

Hi Vincenzo, thanks for your comment. May was initially the whole idea by the government but it is not a mandatory month. Some employers pay it monthly or in April. I hope you received it already?

Nina Bogdanova 07:35 | 8 May 2018

You forgot to mention that taxes on vakantie geld is 50 %

PimBouwmeester 15:14 | 12 June 2018

Dear Nina, Thank you for your comment. I understand what you are saying, the 50% as special tax percentage. It is not always 50% off course, this depends on your fiscal annual salary. Was it 50% for you?

Thomasfr 09:56 | 31 August 2018

This is not fair for the employee ,first sorry for my English . My girlfriend has 1 months of Holliday to take .unfortunately it is the end of his second contrat .Ask for continuing his contrat a little for his holiday ( but that’s not possible..)at the moment She doesn’t want to take it because of the workload , and some colleague want take some holiday ( but can’t if She take it) She learn that she will pay 50% of taxe on it .Now she start to be demotivated and depressed. She feel like she worked for nothing !thanks the law! The employer should have to pay this taxe not the employee

PimBouwmeester 10:03 | 31 August 2018

Hi Thomas, Thank you for your comment. It seems no fair indeed. Maybe we can assist you/ your partner in this. If you drop me an email on [email protected] I will see what I can do for you. Thanks.

sohailshaikh6 14:22 | 3 October 2018

Hello I left my previous organization and I had around 17 days of Holidays left I just got paid for those holidays and I got taxed by 47% Is this common or I can do something about this ?

nitishamaheshwari 13:59 | 29 November 2018

Are the vacation days paid in case we dont avail them? Alsi if we dont avail them, would they be lost?

Lexi Lin 12:48 | 5 December 2018

Hi, on my contract it states the monthly salary and exclusive of 8% holiday allowance. However, I only had a 7-month definite contract and it's going to end in January. Normally also in my previous job in the NL, the holiday allowance is paid in May. In my case, am I still able to get 7/12 of my holiday allowance with my last salary slip in January? Thank you so much for the answer.

Lolita 14:59 | 23 January 2019

Hello, I’m not sure about one thing, if my company pay the holiday allowance in May and I leave the company end of March do I get any holiday allowance or not?

Jenny Turner Jacobs 16:32 | 7 April 2019

Hello, I quit my job on Feb 14th this year I am still waiting on my holiday pay. Is there a certain amount of time in which my old employer needs to pay this to me. I was told it should be paid 6 weeks after contract termination, is this correct?

Žaneta Šindelková 17:20 | 7 October 2019

Hello, I would like to know how is it with vacation days when you work only part-time (every month different hours). Do I have a claim to get some money back with my last salary? Thank you for answer.

Lu Cy 06:20 | 16 November 2019

I work in Horeca for 17 months but I never recieve "vakantiegeld". Does Horeca not included in this scheme?