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Proposal to extend birth leave for partners to 6 weeks!
 
In April 2017, the European Commission announced its proposal to introduce a mandatory paid ten-day paternity leave scheme within the EU. This was already the norm in many EU countries, but not in the Netherlands. In the meantime, the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment has submitted a legislative proposal for the introduction of Additional Birth Leave (in Dutch: "Wetsvoorstel Invoering Extra Geboorteverlof, WIEG") for internet consultation. The legislative proposal contains an extension of the current paternity leave from 2 days to one work week and introduces the possibility to take up additional birth leave for a duration up to five weeks. In this newsletter we briefly outline the most relevant proposed changes.
 
Short read, reading time: 5 minutes
1. Current paternity leave
Under the Dutch Work and Care Act, partners have been entitled to two days of paternity leave since 2002. These two days are paid in full by the employer. Effective 2014, the right to parental leave for partners was introduced. This means that, after two days of paternity leave, the partner can also take an additional three days of parental leave. Parental leave is unpaid, unless otherwise stipulated in a Collective Bargaining Agreement. An employer may in principle not refuse this parental leave. 
2. What about our neighbouring countries?
If you look at the surrounding EU countries, you see that the Netherlands is currently lagging behind with regard to the length of the birth leave for partners. For example, partners receive 20 days in Portugal, 15 in Bulgaria, 14 in Poland and Denmark and 10 days in Belgium. The frontrunner in the EU is Slovenia with no less than 90 days of leave, followed by Finland with 54 days and Lithuania with 30 days.
3. Legislative proposal re. introduction additional birth leave
Extension of paternity leave
On the basis of the legislative proposal, the paternity leave will be extended to once the working hours per week. An employee working on full-time basis is therefore entitled to five days of paternity leave instead of (currently) two days. These leave days - paid in full by the employer - can be taken up immediately, but also elsewhere within the first four weeks after childbirth.
 
Introduction additional 5 weeks of birth leave for partners
Furthermore, the legislative proposal provides for an additional five-week birth leave for partners based on the working hours per week, which will replace the current (unpaid) parental leave of three days. The additional birth leave can be taken up within six months after childbirth. During the leave, the employee is paid 70% of the salary (up to 70% of the maximum daily wage, in 2018: € 209.26). The additional birth leave is not paid by the employer but by the state (the Employee Insurance Agency, in Dutch: "Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers-verzekeringen, UWV").

Expansion of adoption or foster care
Finally, the legislative proposal stipulates that couples who adopt a child or take part in foster care can take up a six week-leave. At the moment, this is four weeks. During this leave, they receive a benefit from the UWV.
Purpose legislative proposal
With the above changes, the government wishes to increase the bond between child and the partner. It is also expected that both parents will distribute the household tasks more evenly and that women will be able to work more. Finally, the Netherlands will also comply with the European Commission's proposal to set the birth leave for partners at ten days.
 
4. Conclusion
It seems that the Netherlands will reach the top 3 of EU countries when it comes to birth leave for partners. The question is how employers will deal with the absence of carreer building employees for longer periods, up to 6 weeks. Naturally, we will keep you informed of further developments concerning the legislative proposal and in due course we will discuss the implementation of this legislation with practical recommendations.

5. More information
If you would like to receive more information on this subject, please contact Kiki Manse (k.manse@denklaw.nl) or Rachid Aolad (r.aoladsi@denklaw.nl).
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This text has been drafted with the utmost care, but no rights can be derived from its contents. 
The author accepts no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies in the text and the possible adverse/negative effects thereof.






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Employment Law · Piet Heinkade 55 · 1019 GM · Amsterdam, Noord Holland 1019 GM · Netherlands

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