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    Legislative proposal for paid parental leave approved by lower house of parliament

    A majority in the lower house of parliament has expressed its approval of the legislative proposal ‘Wet betaald ouderschapsverlof’ (Paid Parental Leave Act). Among many other things, the act will enable employees to receive a benefit for nine weeks during parental leave as of the summer of 2022.

    The legislative proposal is based on European directives aimed at improving the balance between work and private life for parents. The Netherlands must have incorporated these directives into its national legislation by August 2, 2022 at the latest. With the approval of the proposal by the lower house, that date now seems feasible. However, approval by the upper house of parliament is still necessary. Moreover, the UWV (the National Institute for Employees’ Insurance and Regulations) has to make various preparations before the act can go into effect.
    The most important amendment to national legislation made by the Paid Parental Leave Act is that employees will be entitled to a benefit provided by the UWV when they take parental leave during the first year of their newborn’s life (or in the event of adoption or foster care, until one year after the child’s admission into the family – provided that the child is younger than 8 years of age). The employer will apply for the benefit on behalf of the employee. This application is filed by the end of the respective parental leave.

    Benefit during parental leave isn’t equal to wages

    The ‘Wet arbeid en zorg’ (Work and Care Act) regulates that employees can take parental leave for each of their children. The maximum duration of parental leave is 26 times the respective weekly working hours. Once the Paid Parental Leave Act has been implemented, employees will be entitled to a benefit for 9 of those 26 weeks, provided that these 9 weeks are within the first year of the child’s life. The benefit is limited in amount, equal to only 50% of an employee’s daily wages and at most 50% of the maximum daily wages permitted by law. There are therefore concerns that the benefit provides no solution to employees on a low income; they will not receive enough money through the benefit to make ends meet during parental leave.
    Outgoing minister Koolmees of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has therefore decided to add a provision to the legislative proposal. This provision will make it possible for the new cabinet to increase the aforementioned percentage to 70% before the legislation goes into effect – if the new cabinet wishes to do so a will make a budget available for this. Once the legislation has gone into effect, the percentage can only be changed through a legislative amendment submitted to and voted on by the lower house of parliament.

    Changes to supplementary paternity leave and Flexible Working Act

    The legislative proposal includes more amendments to national legislation. For instance, the possibility for employees to suspend their supplementary paternity leave in the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as illness, and the right for uninsured employees (such as a director & majority shareholder) to take supplementary paternity leave. Furthermore, it will become possible for all employees who provide informal care to others or who have young children, to request changes in working hours and workplace on the basis of the ‘Wet flexibel werken’ (Flexible Working Act). Such changes can currently not be requested on the basis of agreements within organizations or as included in the collective labor agreement.

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