Recently, the Paid Parental Leave Act was passed by the House of Representatives. Under the proposal, employees will be entitled to 9 weeks of paid parental leave during the first year after the birth of a child. The reason for this is the necessary implementation of the European Directive on work-life balance for parents and informal carers. For the most part, Dutch legislation already complies with this European Directive, but not yet as far as every employee’s right to 2 months paid parental leave is concerned.
Currently, parental leave is unpaid. Although agreements are made at collective bargaining or company level, only 25 per cent of employees actually receive pay during parental leave. As a result, not everyone can afford to make use of this leave. Research shows that only a third of parents take parental leave. This new law should make it easier for both men and women to better combine work and private life, making it attractive to continue working after the birth of a child.
The payment of part of parental leave is regulated by this bill.
WHAT OPTIONS FOR BIRTH AND PARENTAL LEAVE ARE CURRENTLY REGULATED?
Birth leave for partners
Since 1 January 2019 – following the introduction of the highly applicable legislation abbreviated WIEG – partners (with full-time employment) are entitled to 5 working days of leave immediately after the birth of their child. Previously, this birth leave consisted of only 2 working days. These days are paid by the employer and must be taken within 4 weeks of the child’s birth.
In addition, since 1 July 2020, additional birth leave for partners exists. Partners can take up to 5 weeks of additional birth leave within 6 months of the child’s birth. With the additional birth leave, partners do not receive salary but the UWV pays 70 per cent of their daily wage (and 70 per cent of the maximum daily wage) through a benefit. The employer applies for the benefit from the UWV and pays the employee.
Unpaid parental leave also exists. Parents are allowed to take 26 times the working hours per week in leave for each child up to 8 years old. If an employee works 36 hours a week, he is entitled to a total of 26 times 26 hours of parental leave per child. The employee must apply for this leave in writing at least 2 months in advance. The employer may not refuse parental leave. Only in case of compelling business and/or service interests, the employer can change the details of the leave in consultation with the employee up to 4 weeks before it starts.
WHAT DOES THE (NEW) PARENTAL LEAVE ENTAIL?
Parents will soon receive benefits from the UWV amounting to 50 per cent of their daily wage, up to 50 per cent of the maximum daily wage. The maximum daily wage is EUR 225.57 gross per day from 1 July 2021, so that would mean benefits with a maximum of EUR 112.79 gross per day and EUR 2,453.07 gross per month. The maximum daily wage is indexed every six months.
The main condition is that these 9 weeks are paid only if this leave is taken in the child’s first year of life. The aim is to give families more time to get used to the new situation and also to make conscious choices together about the division of work and care.
The leave not taken in the child’s first year of life can still be added to the 17 weeks of unpaid leave after the first year of life. If the paid leave is not taken in the first year, the (remainder) of the paid leave is converted into unpaid parental leave. This unpaid leave can be taken until the child’s 8th birthday.
Incidentally, mothers are also entitled to these 9 weeks of paid parental leave, in addition to the already existing maternity leave. Finally, this arrangement also applies in case of adoption or foster care. Paid parental leave can then be taken up to 1 year after the child is taken into the family.
The government is trying to reduce the gap between partners by introducing 9 weeks of paid parental leave. Through the UWV, employees are given the option to take parental leave in the child’s first year of life where 50 per cent of the daily wage, capped at 50 per cent of the maximum daily wage is paid.
The question is whether this legislation will result in every employee taking 9 weeks of paid parental leave in practice. After all, there is still a minimum 50 per cent loss of income during these 9 weeks. We are curious to know what developments have taken place on this issue.
Any questions on this topic? Please feel free to contact us.