Schiphol AIrport Netherlands

The do’s and don’ts of holidays

Are you trying to figure out how much time you can take off for Christmas? Or how to spend those final few vacation days you have left at the end of the year? Or, maybe you’re lucky, and you’ll have more holiday days then you need this year.

Who decides on holiday time?

Under Dutch law, the employee is the one who decides when to take holiday time. Your employer, therefore, cannot force you to go on holiday when they want. This also means that your employer cannot expect you to take holiday during garden leave, the time between giving notice of leave and when your contract officially ends. The only way for your employer to get you to take accrued (accumulated) but not yet taken holidays is if you agree to take them before the termination date of your employment contract.

Be aware of expiry date

There is, however, a catch. Your accrued (accumulated) legal vacation days (the twenty days your employer is required to give you, if you are working full time) will expire six months after the last day of the year in which they were accrued. The only exception to this rule is if you were unable to take your holidays. But, since employees do not have the obligation to ask their employers for permission to take holiday days, you cannot later argue your employer did not allow you to go. You would have to show that it was impossible for you to take your holiday days.

If your employer offers you more than the legal obliged twenty days of holiday, those days do not expire and can be used for up to five years after they were accrued. Note that your holidays will also expire during an illness, unless you have been exempted from all reintegration obligations.


Taking some time away from work is good for you, so take your holidays. You’ve earned it. And if you think that your employer is preventing you from taking time off or is otherwise not abiding by Dutch law, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialised lawyers.

Update article: December 2017



Godelijn Boonman - Expat lawyer (employjment law)

Godelijn experienced an international upbringing and education as an expat child living in Africa and England. Back in The Netherlands, she studied law at the University of Utrecht (1990). She then embarked on her legal career as a lawyer by working 10 years for the well-known law firm of ‘Wladimiroff en Spong Advocaten’. In 2000 she joined GMW lawyers as a partner and is the head of the Labour law and Pension section.

Godelijn specialises in international employment law and has extensive experience in dealing with both non-contentious and contentious international employment matters including (collective) redundancy packages and dismissal. She works for both companies and individual employees, enabling her to keep an open mind to both sides of a case. Naturally she helps her clients when a problem has arisen, but prefers to act before an escalation has taken place. Advice on a fair Human Resource policy is an essential part of her work.

Godelijn Boonman is considered to be the undoubted employment specialist for the expat community because she is bilingual, has a large international clientele and a wealth of experience in international employment law matters. She is therefore frequently asked to be the key note speaker at international seminars.

Godelijn has a keen interest in the international community and has been a member of the advisory board of ACCESS and the Women’s Business Initiative International since its beginning.