Ban on smoking in the workplace

Employees in the Netherlands are entitled to a smoke-free workplace. Workplace is understood to mean the employee's entire working environment. This refers to such areas as office spaces, company cafeteria, company vehicles, stairwells and toilets. Smoking is also banned in private offices.

Smoking area

An employer may offer a designated smoking area. This must be a separate and closed room and should not cause any nuisance to employees in the workplace.

Ban on smoking in the hotel and catering industry

Smoking is prohibited in catering establishments (e.g. hotels, restaurants and cafes) in the Netherlands. This ban on smoking applies to owners, employees and guests/customers. Smoking is only permitted on terraces that are not completely enclosed and in 'smoking rooms' that are completely closed-off. Customers may not be served in smoking rooms.

Fine in case of violation

A administrative fine of at least €600 can be imposed when breaking the Ban on smoking Act.

Certificates and quality marks

With a certificate or quality mark, you can demonstrate that your products and services, processes or working conditions in your company meet certain safety, quality or environmental requirements (for example, with organic or local produce). With this, you can also demonstrate that your employees possess certain knowledge and skills.

Certifying bodies and accreditation

In the Netherlands, laboratories and inspecting, certification and verification bodies can have their working methods approved by the Dutch Accreditation Council (Raad voor Accreditatie, RvA). If approved, they are allowed to use the accreditation logo, which indicates they meet requirements such as impartiality and expertise. You will find a list of European inspection agencies on the Nando Information System's website.


A certificate is a written document. Sometimes, a client or the Dutch government makes certification mandatory, for example for people working with asbestos. A certificate is issued on the basis of certification schemes. These schemes contain the requirements set on the product, service, system or person. In order to continue to hold the certificate, you are obliged to attend refresher courses and sit re-examinations frequently.

Working conditions certificates

A working conditions certificate (arbo-certificaat) is mandatory for a number of products, activities and systems, such as:

Strict rules apply to the working conditions certificates. They are also subject to regular audits. If you fail to comply with the rules, heavy sanctions apply.

Quality mark

You must be granted permission from the quality mark owner to be able to use it. If granted, you may use its logo. However, if your product or service fails to meet the promised standards, consumers may call you to account. In that case, you must offer them a solution within a reasonable period, free of charge.

Quality mark owner

As a quality mark owner, you may register your quality mark (Dutch) in order to be tested by RVA. Until 2017 the Dutch Consumer Information Service (ConsuWijzer) publishes all accredited quality marks in the Netherlands on their website.

Company emergency response team (BHV)

Every company in the Netherlands must arrange a company emergency response team (Bedrijfshulpverlening, BHV) so that employees and visitors are cared for properly in the event of emergencies. How you arrange the team depends on, for example, the nature and size of your company. General guidelines can be found in the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet).

Number of emergency response officers

You determine the number of emergency response officers based on the details in the risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E). The number of employees and the average number of visitors are especially important factors in this regard. You must ensure that there are always sufficient emergency service workers available.

Emergency response plan and evacuation plan

You must draw up an emergency response plan (company emergency plan) which contains precise details about the emergency response to be provided. The mandatory evacuation plan can be part of the emergency response plan.

Company emergency response on construction sites

On construction sites (including temporary sites), contractors and subcontractors must jointly provide the emergency response team. Joint agreements relating to field of health and safety must be laid down in writing in the Health and Safety Plan. The head of the emergency response team is responsible for the presence and completeness of an emergency response plan. This plan must be in line with the Health and Safety Plan. Please contact the Arbouw Foundation for more information about company emergency response teams on construction sites.

Please note: The definition of a construction site also includes a case where, for example, two or three of your employees are working at a private individual’s premises. A Health and Safety Plan is not mandatory in such a case.

Illness and recovery reporting

If you own a company in the Netherlands and one of your employees becomes ill, you must notify your company doctor (Dutch) or working conditions service (Arbodienst). As soon as they are recovered, you must notify them as well. You do not have to report to the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) if the illness is only short-term.

Notifying illness to the Employee Insurance Agency

If your employee is ill for more than 42 weeks, you need to report this to UWV (Dutch). This also applies if you are a self-insurer for the purpose of the Return to Work (Partially Disabled) Regulations (WGA). You do not need to report your employee’s recovery to UWV.

Taking sick leave and privacy

If your employee is calling in sick, they are required to state the reason of their absence and to give an expected 'return to work' date. They don't have to give specific details about their illness (or cause of illness). If possible, they may indicate which tasks they might still be able to perform during their illness. Please contact the Dutch Data Protection Authority if you want more information on sickness and privacy with regard to your staff.

Sickness benefits

Sometimes a sick employee is entitled to sickness benefits. This applies to, for example:

  • employees who are ill as a result of pregnancy or childbirth
  • employees with structural functional limitations and occupationally disabled persons who are ill (no-risk policy)
  • employees whose employment ends during their illness

If your employee is entitled to sickness benefits, you must report your employee’s illness to UWV by no later than the 4th working day. You can do this online by means of the (Dutch-language) Absenteeism Reporter for the Sickness Benefits Act/Work and Care Act (Verzuimmelder Ziektewet/WAZO). You must notify UWV of this employee’s recovery within 2 days.

Dismissal during sick leave

If your employee's contract ends when they are on sick leave, you must report this to UWV (Dutch) on the day the contract ends. You are no longer obliged to pay their wages.

Working hours and rest times

If you run a business in the Netherlands and you employ staff, or if your business has its registered office outside of the Netherlands and you employ workers in the Netherlands, you must comply with statutory regulations regarding working hours and rest times. These regulations state that your employees may not exceed a specific number of working hours per day and per week. They are also entitled to take regular breaks. These rules apply to everyone, including foreign employees and temporary personnel.

Exceptions and additions

Certain employees, professions and working conditions correspond to exceptions and supplements to the general rules for work and break times. There are modified periods of rest, work and break times for children, youngsters, pregnant women or women who have recently given birth. This also applies to employees who work night shifts. There are also supplementary sector-specific rules, within the care, mining and transport industries (and other sectors). The rules for the taxi sector have been made more flexible.

Request for working fewer or more hours

If your employee wants to work fewer or more hours than is stipulated in the employment contract, you must always allow this. However, you can refuse if you can demonstrate that your company would suffer serious consequences as a result. Your employee is allowed to submit a request like this only once a year, unless unforeseen circumstances exist to justify a second request. The contract change may be temporary as well.

Modifying working times after parental leave

If your employee has used up all of their parental leave, they may request a temporary modification of working times for the period thereafter. Your employee must submit this request 3 months before the end of the parental leave period. You must decide 4 weeks before it ends.