The Working Hours Act (Arbeidstijdenwet) and the Working Hours Decree (Arbeidstijdenbesluit) regulate the hours that employees are permitted to work within a given period of time and when they have the right to take a break or period of rest. There are also specific rules for certain sectors and for categories of employees or professional groups, young people under the age of 18 years and pregnant women.
Working Hours Act
There are rules included in the Working Hours Act regarding working on Sundays, night work, on-call services and attendance duties. The rules set out in the Working Hours Act apply to everyone from the age of 18 years who works for an employer, therefore including trainees, agency workers and workers on secondment.
Working Hours Decree: exceptions and additions
Exceptions and additions to the Working Hours Act are included in the Working Hours Decree (Arbeidstijdenbesluit or, abbreviated: Atb). There are exceptions in working hours for certain sectors and also for categories of employees or professional groups, such as in the care sector and mining. There are also exceptions to the rules for particular situations, such as sudden, dangerous situations when following the statutory rules would prevent an adequate course of action.
Rules for young people under 18 years old
There are separate rules for young people under 18 years old. For example, they are normally not permitted to work at night between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Rules for pregnant women
There are special rules for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. For example, their working hours and rest breaks may be adjusted accordingly after consultation with the employer.
Supervision of compliance with Working Hours Act
The employees are also responsible for observing that the rules concerning working hours and rest breaks are complied with. They can address the issue with their employer if this is not the case. Employees can also address their works council if they suspect that the employer is not complying with the rules.
The Netherlands Labour Authority checks whether the rules governing working hours are complied with. If necessary, the Inspectorate can hand out fines or decide to start criminal proceedings.