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Do you work on holidays? What does this mean for the employer?


Not everyone is able to spend Christmas at home. Workers in some industries cannot afford it. Here you can read about the rules that apply in such cases and how you plan the work of your staff for these days.

Take Christmas for example. For many people, this is a holiday that can finally be spent with family or friends. In most cases, this is the case, since most companies and organizations are closed at this time. This applies, for example, to government and educational institutions, business service providers and construction companies.

However, there are some companies that work during the Christmas holidays. This applies to those areas where it is necessary, for example, in medicine, animal husbandry, safety or in companies where production processes are ongoing. Companies in the hotel sector do not close at such times either, as for them it is an additional income from both tourism and Christmas dinners. In addition, more and more stores remain open during Christmas, in particular supermarkets or home improvement stores.

Christmas holidays are set by collective bargaining agreements

The first and second day of Christmas are public holidays designated by the government as universally recognized and Christian holidays. This is officially established by the General Terms Act (Algemene termijnenwet). However, this does not mean that these holidays automatically become a weekend for your employees.

The right to weekends during public holidays is not regulated by law, but is enshrined in collective bargaining agreements. If your company is subject to a binding collective bargaining agreement, then that is the one that states whether you must release your employees for Christmas (and other public holidays) or not. Therefore, always check the collective bargaining agreement applicable in your industry. If there is no such agreement, you yourself decide whether these days will be days off for your employees or not. Then you must indicate this in the employment contract that you enter into directly with the employees.

Have a good work schedule

Does your collective bargaining agreement allow working days to be set for Christmas because, for example, you have a catering company? In this case, make sure in advance that you have a clear work schedule for these days, indicating who works on what day. To maintain a good working environment, try to accommodate individual wishes. For example, first ask which employee wants to work for Christmas. There are almost always those who want to, especially if there is a premium for it.

If the schedule cannot be closed by volunteers, because many employees want to rest that day and are even ready to apply for vacation, you can oblige them to work at this time. In this case, you must be able to demonstrate that it is in the interest of good business management. As a hospitality and restaurant entrepreneur, you may find it easier to deny a vacation to a chef than to a dishwasher, for example. If there are still empty spaces in the grid after that, you can fill them by asking part-time employees to come out during extra hours. Another possibility is to hire flexible employees or employees on holidays, such as temporary workers, freelancers or workers with a zero hour contract (nulurencontract).


Work on holidays is equivalent to work on Sunday, for which separate rules apply. So, for example, you cannot set the same employees to work Sunday all the time.

What about your salary during public holidays?

Legally, the amount of wages on holidays is not established. This is regulated by collective bargaining agreements. All collective agreements stipulate that the employee is paid his salary on public holidays. With the condition that a public holiday falls on a working day, that is, on a day on which the employee would normally work. If your company is not subject to a collective bargaining agreement, none of this applies to you and your employees are not officially eligible for continued pay if they are not working on Christmas or another holiday. The law also does not say anything about possible wage increases for employees who work on holidays. Thus, you should not pay your employees more than their regular salary, unless you are bound by a collective bargaining agreement. Many collective agreements provide for a supplement to normal wages ranging from fifty to one hundred percent. If you are an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, you are subject to the rule that employees who work on holidays must compensate employees with additional free hours in excess of
that you pay them their wages.

How public holidays and vacation compare

All employees are entitled to statutory leave. In a year, an employee can take at least four times as many hours of vacation as he does on a weekly basis. However, public holidays are not counted here. Quite the opposite, the law states that an employer has no right to write off national holidays, on which employees are usually free, as days off.

What about employees who work part-time?

Part-time employees are also eligible for continued salary payments on public holidays. This applies to days when a public holiday falls on the day the employee normally works. But even if the public holiday falls on a fixed day off of such an employee, he may be eligible for partial salary payments.

This follows a decision by the Dutch Human Rights Council (formerly the Commission for Equal Rights - Commissie Gelijke Behandeling) in the case of a part-time employee who was free on Mondays and, as a result, prorated holidays were paid incorrectly. The council recommends that companies use what is known as the "hours per year system" when calculating the number of days off for part-time workers. This advice is not mandatory, but judges take it into account in their decisions.

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