A majority in the lower house of parliament of the Netherlands government has expressed its support for paid parental leave. If the upper house also supports the idea, this would mean that employees will be entitled to receive a benefit for nine weeks during parental leave as of August 2, 2022. The ‘Wet arbeid en zorg’ (Work and Care Act) regulates that employees can take parental leave for each of their children until the age of 8. The maximum duration of parental leave is 26 times the respective weekly working hours. Once paid parental leave has been implemented, employees will be entitled to a benefit for 9 of those 26 weeks, provided that these 9 weeks are within the first year of the child’s life.
The benefit is equal to 50% of an employee’s daily wages and at most 50% of the maximum daily wages permitted by law. There are therefore concerns that the benefit provides no solution to employees on a low income; they will not have enough money left to make ends meet. A provision has therefore been added to the legislative proposal for paid parental leave which makes it possible for the new cabinet to increase the aforementioned percentage to 70% before the legislation goes into effect.
The legislative proposal includes two more changes: the possibility for employees to suspend their supplementary paternity leave in the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as illness, and the right for all employees who provide informal care to others (‘mantelzorg’ in Dutch) or who have young children to request changes in working hours and workplace on the basis of the ‘Wet flexibel werken’ (Flexible Working Act).