The Working Hours Act provides rules for working hours, breaks and rest periods for employees. With these rules, the central government wants to protect employees against too long working days. But also make the combination of work, private life, and the safety of employees easier. It is important that all expats know what they can expect from their employers while working in the Netherlands.
What are the legal rules for my working hours and rest times?
You may work a maximum of 12 hours per shift and a maximum of 60 hours a week. There are separate rules for young people up to the age of 18 and for pregnant women who have recently given birth. There may be different rules in your collective agreement.
Maximum number of working hours
The Working Hours Act states that you may not work for a maximum of 60 hours every week. The following applies for a longer period:
Over a period of 4 weeks, you may work an average of 55 hours a week. You may deviate from this in a collective agreement or company arrangements, but you may never work more than 60 hours a week.
Over a period of 16 weeks, you can work a maximum of 48 hours per week on average.
A working week runs from Sunday at midnight to Saturday at midnight.
Professions with different working hours and rest periods
Different rules apply to a number of employees and professions, including working hours and rest periods. For example, doctors who are trained to become specialists who are available on call. These rules are set out in the Working Hours Decree. The Working Hours Act is then (partially) not applicable.
Legal right to rest
The following rules apply to rest after your working hours:
- After a working day, you may not work for at least 11 consecutive hours.
- The 11-hour rest period may be shortened once every 7 days to a minimum of 8 hours. But this is only allowed if it is necessary for work.
- By default, there is a weekly rest of 36 consecutive hours in each period of 7 times 24 hours.
- You can also spread the weekly rest over 14 days. In that case, there must be 72 hours of rest in every 14-hour 24-hour period. You do not have to take this 72 hours of rest consecutively. You can share this rest in 2 periods of at least 32 hours.
Special rules for young people up to 18 years and pregnant women
The Working Hours Act contains separate rules for working and rest times for:
- children from 13 and 14 years;
- children aged 15 years;
- young people aged 16 and 17;
- pregnant or recently giving birth.
How often can I have a night shift?
You may work a maximum of 36 nights in a 16-week period. You may state that you have night shifts more often under a collective agreement or company scheme. You may work a maximum of 7 services in succession. The maximum is 140-night shifts per year.
Up to 7 consecutive shifts
Do you work 1 or more night shifts and then take up some more shifts? Then you may not work more than 7 services in succession. In your collective labor agreement or in written agreements with the works council or staff representatives it can be stated that you work 8 shifts in succession. This is only allowed if the nature of the work or the operating conditions makes this necessary.
Can my employer adjust my work during my pregnancy or after giving birth?
Your employer must ensure that you can work safely and healthily during your pregnancy and while breastfeeding. You continue to do your own work as much as possible. If this is not possible, your employer can adjust your work or working hours.
Adjustment of working hours during pregnancy
Working hours and rest periods can also be adjusted. You are entitled to the following matters, but always consult with your employer:
- regular working hours and rest periods;
- extra breaks (a maximum of 1/8 of your working time);
- a suitable, lockable room for resting (with bed or couch);
- no irregular work, overtime and night shifts;
- necessary pregnancy examinations if this must take place during working hours. Your wages will be paid for the duration of the pregnancy examination and the travel time. You are entitled to this up to 6 months after the birth (with the exception of the examinations).