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Rules for the distribution of work and rest in the Netherlands

12.04.2023

The rules for attracting employees to work and providing them with rest are regulated Working Time Act (Arbeidstijdenwet). In general, the maximum workload should not exceed 60 working hours per week. For representatives of certain professions, workers under the age of 18, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, different rules are established. If the collective agreement sets out rules other than Arbeidstijdenwet, the agreement must be followed.

Maximum working hours

A work shift cannot exceed 12 hours. The working week should not exceed 60 hours. The working week runs from 00:00 Monday to 24:00 Sunday. 

60 hours is the maximum workload that an employer can impose on an employee in one week. 

For longer periods of time, different rules are provided: for four weeks, the average workload per employee should not exceed 55 hours per week, and for 16 weeks - no more than 48 hours per week. Working more than 60 hours a week is prohibited, but the standard workload of an employee should be lower.

Special rules for adult workers in certain categories

Rules different from the above apply to a number of professions. For example, truck drivers are required to alternate between driving and resting to prevent accidents. So, every 4,5 hours of driving should be interrupted by rest for at least 45 minutes. Special rules have been established for the alternation of work and rest for certain other professions or types of employment. Employees working on a call also work and rest on a schedule different from most employees.

Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth work and rest on special rules.

Special rules for work for teenagers under 18 years of age

In general, it is believed that a teenager should not work, his main occupation is study. If he has a need or desire to work, there are stricter rules regarding his involvement in work and the provision of rest. Legally working adolescents are divided into three age categories:

  1. 13-14 years;
  2. 15 years;
  3. 16-17 years

Rules for alternating work and leisure for adolescents of the appropriate age in Dutch can be found at the active links. 

Right to rest

Between working days, employees must be provided with at least 11 hours off work. If work requires it, once every 1 days this break can be reduced to 7 hours. In general, an employee must have at least 8 consecutive hours of rest during the working week. It is possible to provide a long rest once every two weeks - then the employee must receive at least 36 hours free from work in a row. The employee may divide these 1 hours into 72 periods of at least 72 consecutive hours. 

Compliance with the law on working hours is supervised by the Dutch labor inspection (Arbeidsinspectie). Employers who violate the rules may be subject to both administrative and criminal liability.

How part-time workers are regulated

If you work multiple jobs, the general rules apply to you, meaning you cannot work more than 60 hours a week in total. Experience shows that the labor inspectorate rarely controls this issue, however, employers who believe that a tired employee works worse can oppose exceeding the maximum workload. 

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