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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Act on labour and care

Country of implementation
The Netherlands
General short description of the innovation
The general objective is to facilitate the combination of work and various caring activities. Various regulations give legal rights for various kinds of temporary absence from work because of calamities, giving birth and parental leave after birth, adoption and short, temporary caring activities. The act provides the right for (partial) wage compensation except in the case of parental leave. Collective agreements however may amend the general regulations and determine the duration of leave as well as the level of wage payment during leave periods.
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • family
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
since 2001
Scope of innovation
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The act gives workers the right for temporary leave because of various kinds of family care and calamities. It also gives the right for income continuation in case of absence and, in some cases, public benefits. Only in the public sector parental leave is paid for partially by the employer. Collective agreements and work councils at the company level may propose amendments to the general regulations, making it a rather ?soft? law because the act does not set obligatory standards with regards to wage continuation or duration of leave.
Nature of the innovation-long-term perspective
structural change of legal right to temporary absence from work, with or without wage
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • leave schemes
  • regulations of the labour market
Intended target group
Workers with the wish for temporary leave for caring activities
Working age population
  • care responsibilities (care for children [0-16/16+], for elderly or other family members) (various care responsibilities fall under this law, both for children as well as elder relatives)
  • employment situation (mostly workers in typical work on a secure contract)
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state (regulation)
  • employees (organised or individual)
  • employers (organised or individual)
Clarification of the role of various actors
The general act can be amended at the level of companies (work councils) or sectoral collective agreements. This means the actual right for absence and possibilities for wage continuation during leave differ per sector or even per company. The evaluation shows that some agreements offer better possibilities than the national act, whilst others reduce the possibilities for temporary leave, especially with regards to wage payment and duration of leave. For example, 20% of a sample of employers does not pay wages during calamity leave and only 20% pays the 70% of wage that the act sets as a norm.
Intended output
  • leave schemes
  • regulation of the labour market
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
The outcomes of this law are not very clear but appear to be modest. Several evaluation were done (employers, employees), but the overall picture is not very clear. The study on employees shows that despite a big need for temporary leave, most workers use holiday rights and not the legal rights following from this act, mostly because leave is not paid for. In a European perspective, Dutch leave possibilities for care have not really improved according to the evaluation. Knijn, T. and C. Sarceno (2010) are critical about the outcomes of this act, especially because paid parental leave has only been made possible for a small number of employees. They partially blame the nature of collective agreements for this.
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