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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Adaptation of working hours act (WAA)

Country of implementation
The Netherlands
General short description of the innovation
This law gives employees under certain conditions the right to ask for change in working hours, for example because of caring responsibilities. It is meant to facilitate the combination of work and care, women?s participation in the labour market and a more equal distribution of work and care between men and women.
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • employment
  • wage
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
since 2000
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: structural
  • Number of intended beneficiaries: unknown, but potentially all employees working for one year or longer who wanto change working hours
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
According to the evaluation, the act was intended: (1) to increase the supply of labour and employment, (2) to make it easier to combine paid work with other work and (3) to create opportunities for more varied working hours/greater flexibility. The act provides employees with the formal right to increase or decrease their working hours, provided they have been working for the employer for at least one year and their request does not interfere with companies? interests. Small companies with fewer than 10 employees are exempted, but have to make their own arrangements. /
Nature of the innovation-long-term perspective
structural formalization of employee?s rights with regards to working hours
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • regulations of the labour market
  • working time
Clarification of intended mechanisms, outputs and outcomes (optional)
The act formalizes the possibility for workers to claim less or more working hours to be able to comply with other obligations or ambitions. Is part of a much longer trend in the Netherlands since the seventies to promote parttime work
Intended target group
Employees who want to increase or decrease their working time and who have worked at least one year for their employer and who work in companies with more than 10 employees
Working age population
  • employment situation (typical work)
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state (regulation, but this is a framework law, collective agreements on working time determine the details)
  • employees (organised or individual)
  • employers (organised or individual)
Clarification of the role of various actors
Agreements on working time are part of social dialogue between employees and employers and their collective agreements. This framework act has regulated this process by giving more rights to employees to claim change in working time.
Intended output
  • regulation of the labour market
  • working time
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
parttime work has probably increasedparticipation rate has probably increased
Intended and unintended outcomes
not available
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
The evaluation states that the number of people contemplating change in working hours has increased. 38% of large employers find that more employees have asked for change in working hours since enactment of the law. These demands are mostly met by the employers. Although hard evidence is not presented, the The evaluation states that the act has probably increased the supply of labour as well as total employment, because of the greater flexibility the act allows for workers: the decision to keep working despite other responsibilities has become easier. It is not clear whether the act has contributed to a more equal division of work and care between men and women. Moreover, many employees are not aware of the act, meaning that they would possibly try to negotiate other working hours without this act as well. The impact for vulnerable groups is not assessed. However, the act benefits only workers who are already ?inside? the labour market.
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