Netherlands gets ready for expanded EU paid parental leave; Plan expected by year-end

Dutch family King's Day
Library image of a Dutch family enjoying a barbecue. 1 July 2014. (photo: FamVeldman / DepositPhotos)

The European Parliament this week passed new legislation to expand paternal leave after the birth of a child and paid parental leave, and though The Netherlands opposed European interference in what it sees as a national issue, the country will definitely comply with the rules when adopted, confirmed Social Affairs Minister Wouter Koolmees. It will expand on the paid leave already offered in The Netherlands if agreed by European Council.

The Council negotiated the rules in consultation with Parliament. Once agreed, Member States would be required to implement the rule changes within three years.

The new rules allow for ten paid days off for new fathers and "equivalent second parents, where recognised by national laws," according to the Parliament's website. Compensation for these days must match at least the amount of money national governments mandate for sick pay.

This is an expansion on what is already offered in The Netherlands. The current Dutch cabinet pushed through legislation to expand partners' leave to five fully paid days in 2018, a law which took effect in January.

Additionally, each parent in Europe will then has the right to four months of parental leave, of which two are non-transferable and at least six weeks are paid. Each individual European Union country will be allowed to set the minimum pay level allowed for these periods.

Currently in the Dutch government mandates that partners will receive seventy percent of salary for five weeks of leave during the first six months of a child's life. Generally, expectant and new mothers are allotted 14-18 weeks of combined paid pregnancy and maternity leave.

"We are going to comply properly," Minister Koolmees told reporters according to the AD. He also said that he will inform the government and the public about what the Dutch government will force employers to provide by the end of the year. This will give the benefits agency UVW and the tax office time to enforce the policy on time.

he new rules, including a minimum of five paid days off to take care of an seriously ill relative, are meant to promote gender equality across Europe. The Parliament stated that women are "far more likely to work part-time to take care of children and relatives and face career interruptions, which contribute to them being paid on average less and having lower pensions than men."

The Netherlands already has rules in place for long-term and short-term care of an employee's siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, roommates, friends and acquaintances. Current long-term care rules provide for six weeks of unpaid leave, while short-term care mandates two weeks of leave at 70 percent of the employee's salary.