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Do you have the right to be free on a public holiday?

many Dutch people are free on King's day, but for employees in, for example, the hospitality industry, the supermarket industry or in the hospital, that Kite d

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Do you have the right to be free on a public holiday?

many Dutch people are free on King's day, but for employees in, for example, the hospitality industry, the supermarket industry or in the hospital, that Kite does not fly. Do workers have the right to be off on a public holiday? Employment lawyer Suzanne Meijers and hr expert Doreen van der Pols explain the situation.

it is very common in the Netherlands to release employees on public holidays, such as Easter Sunday, Ascension Day and King's day. But it is not a right, says employment lawyer Suzanne Meijers. "There is nothing in the law that says you have to be free on those days. It can be in a collective agreement or in an employment contract, but it is not a free day off as a matter of course."

most Dutch people are not aware of this, says Meijers. "They don't realize it's actually a gift from the boss."That sometimes leads to confusion, especially around Liberation Day. "Once every five years, May Day is an official day off, but if there is nothing left in your contract, you probably just have to work that day."

Read also at Intermediair: 'special leave: when do you get time off?'

when you assume that you will be free on a holiday, it is still smart to check in advance whether it is really so, says HR expert Doreen van der Pols from the HR Expert Bureau. She advises employers in the industries where this is taken for granted - for example, where non-essential office work is carried out - to release employees on such a day as King's day. "This is a good employer. If you make a different choice, you will get a lot of dissatisfied employees because the rest of the Netherlands is largely free."

obliged to include a holiday

if it is not a general right that you are free on a number of public holidays, does it also mean that your boss can oblige you to come to work on King's day? Yes, says employment lawyer Meijers, you can.

"it's not common, at least I've never come across a company that says you should just come to work on King's day, even if it's not common in that industry. If you do, you will not make yourself popular as an employer."

“what I most often come across is that employers have five mandatory days off in the year."
Suzanne Meijers, employment lawyer

an employer does not have to give away the day 'for free'. He could also oblige you to take a vacation day for it. Your boss can impose an unlimited number of mandatory days off, says Meijers: "but that's not reasonable. What I most often come across is that employers have five mandatory days off in the year. In construction, the weather is much more. Then employees must compulsorily take two weeks of summer vacation off. This is also known as the' construction sector'."

for many employees, the day after Ascension Day is such a mandatory day of leave. But that has to be somewhere in black and white. "An employer has to communicate that well in advance. Something like this should be clearly in writing, for example in your employment contract or the personnel regulations. Only then can you oblige employees to record that day," says Van der Pols.

working on holidays is possible, but must match tasks

if you still have piles of work and you just really want to work on King's day, you can coordinate that with your boss in advance. Van der Pols: "whether that is possible depends on the work you do. Administrative work can be done from home, even if the office is closed. But if the laboratory where you work closes, then it will be difficult for you to complete your tasks at home."

Meijers does not think that many employers comply with such a request. "If you want to work the day after Ascension, you might be alone or in the office with two people. Customers don't work either, so there's no phone to pick up. I understand that employers find it nonsensical."

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