20% of Dutch workers denied contractual holiday pay

One in five employees will not receive vacation pay this month due to their employer facing financial troubles, which is twice as many as last year. In a survey the CNV labor union conducted among 3,500 people, 19 percent of them indicated that they will not receive any holiday pay this year.

“These are shocking figures. This means that 1.7 million workers do not receive holiday pay, when holiday pay is a right,” said CNV chair Piet Fortuin.

Holiday pay is equivalent to at least eight percent of the gross salary for the past year, and is normally given out in May. According to Fortuin, many families usually spend more than half of the benefit to cover their crucial expenses.

“We understand that many entrepreneurs are in difficult times. At the same time, the support that many entrepreneurs receive from the government is generous. That is precisely intended for the continued payment of salaries, of which the holiday pay is part,” he said in a statement.

He also told newspaper AD, “Holiday pay is not a nice extra that most people can do without. People use it to pay for big bills like car insurance. Or they pay off debts with it.”

Legal service provider DAS also confirmed they have recently been approached by both employers and employees seeking more clarity on the issue. According to DAS employment lawyer Pascal Besselink, employers often wanted to find out whether there were alternative ways of paying vacation bonuses to their workers.

The issue appears to be most visible across industries such as the events sector, small shops, hospitality and tourism. In these sectors, which are considered to be the worst-hit by the global pandemic, around 70% of workers alerted that they may be denied their holiday pay.

According to Fortuin, employers are legally obliged to provide vacation pay to their employees. “If an employee files a case, no judge will dismiss such a claim. Financial problems are not an exceptional reason to avoid this obligation.”

ONL chair Hans Biesheuvel previously said that entrepreneurs should approach their employees and constructively look for alternative ways to approach holiday pay, like delayed compensation.

According to him, a settlement can be reached if employers are obliged to pay the holiday allowance in several installments or at a later date.