Working hours in the Netherlands

A Dolly Parton song might seem out of place, but it’s actually quite appropriate when talking about working hours in the Netherlands. 


Working 9 to 5

The Dutch are generally an ambitious as well as time-efficient lot. They like to keep their work and private lives separated and are generally well-protected and taken care off through work laws and regulations. In this article we’ll take a glance at working life in the Netherlands.

Am I working full or part-time?

A standard full-time job in the Netherlands is between 36 and 40 hours a week, which comes down to seven or eight hours a day, five days a week. A job is considered to be part-time when you work anywhere between 12 to 36 hours a week. The Dutch are considered early birds as they start their working day between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish between 4 and 6 p.m. The usual lunch break ranges anywhere from half an hour to an hour and is usually unpaid.

Putting in the extra hours

Unlike a lot of other countries where it’s considered normal or even expected to put in extra hours in addition to your contractual hours, the Dutch are known for their punctuality and unpaid overtime is uncommon. Of course, your future employer might mention during contract negotiations that a certain amount of overtime is expected and covered by your salary. Most commonly, companies provide financial compensation or time off for overtime. That accumulated overtime can therefore result in extra days off for the employee.

Know your rights

You will want to examine every detail of your employment contract during contract negotiations, but it’s good to know that there are also legal limits to working hours in the Netherlands. According to the ‘Working Hours Act’, a shift should not be longer than 12 hours in a day and you shouldn’t be required to work more than 60 hours a week. Different laws are in place for adolescents under 18 and pregnant women. If you want to read more about the Working Hours Act, click here.

A flexible future

Like in most modern economies, flexitime working is becoming increasingly more popular and a more feasible option in the Netherlands. The Dutch government and an increasing number of businesses are flirting around the edges of the Scandinavian work model. They understand the importance of improving an employee’s efficiency and results on the work floor by allowing them to have a say in when and where they work. This could either be from home or from so called ‘flexwerkplekken’, flexible workspaces that are popping up all over the country. By giving people increased self-determination in the workplace, employees have proven to be more time-efficient and capable of reaching their targets, as well as being happier and more satisfied on the job. This new way of working may well be the solution that steers us towards a thriving, sustainable economy and – more importantly – a happier working population!