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Working hours in the Netherlands

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Wondering if your job is full- or part-time? Feel like you're working too much overtime unpaid? Find out about working  hours in the Netherlands and related regulations below.

Full-time work in the Netherlands

A standard Dutch working week is 38 hours. The majority of fulltime (voltijd) jobs in the Netherlands are between 36-40 hours a week, or seven to eight hours a day, five days a week.

Some companies have a 40 hour working week instead of the standard 38 hours, in which case employees receive more salary for more hours worked.

Another way employers may compensate higher weekly hours is by increasing annual holiday leave (sometimes to around 12 additional days).

In the Netherlands lunch breaks are usually 30 minutes, unpaid.

Part time work in the Netherlands

If you work less than 36 hours a week, but more than 12, then you are considered as working part time (deeltijd). A high proportion of women in the Netherlands, approximately 74 percent, work part time.

Opinions are divided about the advantages of this trend, as it has both benefits (lower stress levels, more time with family and kids) and drawbacks (lower financial independence, slow career development).

Legal limits to working hours in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands an employee can legally work a maximum of 12 hours per shift and a maximum of 60 hours per week. This limit is only for brief periods, for longer time frames the limit is lower.

Across a four-week period an employee may not work more than 55 hours per week, and over a 16-week period an employee may not work more than 48 hours per week.

If you work a shift of more than 5,5 hours then you have the right to a 30 minute (unpaid) break, which you may also split into two breaks of 15 minutes.

Working overtime in the Netherlands

Unlike many other countries, regularly working long hours overtime is not so common in the Netherlands.

Whether or not you receive compensation for hours worked overtime depends on the conditions in your work contract. Some companies will stipulate in the contract that (a certain amount of) overtime work comes with the job and is covered by your regular salary, while others may provide financial compensation or time in lieu for any extra hours worked.

If you feel like you are working too much (uncompensated) overtime then it is important to raise the issue with your employer.

Flexible hours in the Netherlands

For some employees it is possible to negotiate flexible working hours with their employer. This can include:

  • working from home one or more days a week.
  • longer working days in exchange for one free day per week or fortnight.
  • time in lieu to replace hours worked in the evenings or on weekends.

If you would like to explore the possibilities of flexible work then be sure to raise the issue when discussing your employment contract or at a performance review meeting.

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