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.

This post was reviewed and updated on 27 September 2020

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 holidays 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 20 days your employer is required to give you, if you are working full time) will expire 6 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 legally obliged 20 vacation days, those days do not expire and can be used for up to 5 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.