Garden Leave: Your Rights as an Employee in the Netherlands

Being placed on garden leave by your employer can be a confusing and stressful situation. This article aims to explain what garden leave is, how it works in the Netherlands, and what you need to know to protect your rights and entitlements. Whether you’re facing dismissal or termination, or considering signing a settlement agreement, this comprehensive guide is worth reading.

What is Garden Leave?

Garden leave is a clause often found in employment agreements, whereby an employee who is being dismissed or terminated is required to stay away from work during their notice period. While on garden leave, the employee continues to receive their salary and benefits but is exempt from work duties. This arrangement is intended to prevent the employee from accessing confidential information or working for a competitor during the notice period.

When Can an Employer Put You on Garden Leave?

In the Netherlands, an employer can place you on garden leave if there is a valid clause in your employment contract or settlement agreement. This clause typically comes into effect when the employer decides to terminate your employment or when you resign from your position.

Your Entitlements During Garden Leave

During garden leave, you are still considered an employee, and your employer must continue to pay your salary and provide all the benefits outlined in your employment agreement. Additionally, you may be entitled to a transition payment (transitievergoeding) based on your years of service.

Notice Period and Garden Leave Duration

The duration of garden leave is usually the same as the applicable notice period, which can vary depending on your employment contract and the number of years you have been with the company. In the Netherlands, the statutory notice period ranges from one month to four months, depending on the length of your employment.

Settlement Agreements: Should You Sign?

If your employer proposes a settlement agreement (vaststellingsovereenkomst) that includes a garden leave clause, it’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions. Seek legal advice to ensure that the agreement is fair and that your rights and entitlements are protected.

Getting Legal Advice on Garden Leave

Given the complexities surrounding garden leave and employment termination, it’s highly recommended to seek legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer. They can guide you through the process, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure that your interests are safeguarded.

Garden Leave and Unemployment Benefits in the Netherlands

If your employment is formally terminated after the garden leave period, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits (WW-uitkering) from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). However, it’s essential to understand the requirements and procedures for claiming these benefits.

Employer Obligations During Garden Leave

During your garden leave, your employer must treat you with respect and maintain confidentiality regarding the reasons for your dismissal or termination. They cannot force you to perform work duties or attend the workplace, and they must provide you with the opportunity to look for another job.

Competing with Your Former Employer After Garden Leave

In some cases, your employment agreement or settlement agreement may include a non-compete clause that restricts you from working for a competitor within a certain period after your employment ends. It’s crucial to understand the scope and limitations of such clauses and seek legal advice if necessary.

What if my employer refuses to pay me during garden leave?

If your employer fails to pay your salary or provide benefits during garden leave, they may be in breach of your employment agreement or settlement agreement. Seek legal advice immediately to protect your rights.

Can I take another job while on garden leave?

This depends on the terms of your employment agreement or settlement agreement. Some agreements prohibit taking another job during the garden leave period, while others may allow it. Seek legal advice to understand your specific situation.

What happens if I refuse to go on garden leave?

If you refuse to comply with a valid garden leave clause, your employer may have grounds for immediate dismissal or termination without compensation. It’s essential to understand your rights and obligations before making such a decision.


  • Garden leave is a common practice in the Netherlands, where an employee is required to stay away from work during their notice period while still receiving their salary and benefits.
  • Employers can place employees on garden leave if there is a valid clause in the employment agreement or settlement agreement.
  • During garden leave, employees are entitled to their regular salary, benefits, and potentially a transition payment.
  • Seek legal advice to understand your rights and obligations during garden leave, especially when negotiating settlement agreements or dealing with potential dismissal.
  • Employers must treat employees on garden leave with respect, maintain confidentiality, and provide the opportunity to look for another job.
  • Be aware of any non-compete clauses or restrictions that may apply after your garden leave period ends.

Remember, garden leave can be a complex process, and it’s crucial to protect your rights and entitlements as an employee. Don’t hesitate to seek professional legal advice to navigate this situation successfully.