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Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Holiday leave

In Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES Islands), the BES Labor Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek BES) stipulates that all employees should receive a minimum of three times their contracted number of working days per week as vacation days. This implies that a full-time employee who works a standard 6-day workweek is entitled to a minimum of 18 vacation days per year.

Calculation of Vacation Days

For employees who work a non-standard workweek, such as part-time, the vacation entitlement is calculated proportionally. For example, an employee who works 3 days per week is entitled to 9 vacation days per year (3 days/week x 3).

Accrual of Vacation Days

The vacation entitlement accrues throughout the employment year. Generally, employees can take their accrued vacation days at a time that is mutually agreed upon with their employer.

Vacation Pay

Employees are entitled to receive their regular salary during their vacation leave period.

Unused Vacation Days

In principle, vacation days should be taken within the year they accrue. However, it may be possible to carry over unused vacation days to the following year, but this is subject to employer policies and labor agreements.

Public holidays

In the Caribbean Netherlands, which includes Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, public holidays are a mix of national holidays and island-specific celebrations.

National Holidays

These holidays are observed across all three islands:

  • New Year's Day (January 1st)
  • Good Friday (movable)
  • Easter Sunday (movable)
  • Easter Monday (movable)
  • King's Day (April 27th)
  • Labor Day (May 1st)
  • Ascension Day (movable)
  • Whit Sunday (movable)
  • Christmas Day (December 25th)
  • Boxing Day (December 26th)

Island-Specific Holidays

Each island also has its own unique holidays:


  • Dia di Rincon (April 30th): This day celebrates the island's cultural heritage.
  • Bonaire Day (September 6th): This day commemorates the island becoming a special municipality of the Netherlands.

Sint Eustatius

  • Emancipation Day (July 1st): This day marks the abolition of slavery on the island.
  • Statia Day (November 16th): This day celebrates cultural heritage and when the island first acknowledged Dutch sovereignty.


  • Carnival Monday (July 29th): This day marks the start of Saba's lively Carnival festivities.
  • Saba Day (December 6th): This day commemorates the island's history and culture.

Please note that the observance of island-specific holidays can vary slightly from year to year.

Types of leave

In Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, employees are entitled to various forms of leave under the BES Labor Code and other regulations.

Vacation Leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of three times their weekly workdays as annual vacation days. For example, a full-time employee would have 18 days. These vacation days accrue throughout the year and are to be taken with the employer's agreement. During vacation leave, employees receive their regular salary.

Maternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave, typically divided into prenatal and postnatal leave. Employers must continue to pay the employee's full salary during maternity leave.

Paternity Leave

Fathers are entitled to a short period of paternity leave around the birth of their child. The exact duration and conditions may vary depending on collective labor agreements.

Sick Leave

Employees unable to work due to illness are entitled to sick leave. For the first two years of employment, the employer must continue to pay at least 70% of the employee's salary during sick leave.

Calamity Leave

Employees may be entitled to short-term leave to deal with unexpected emergencies or unforeseen personal circumstances. The duration and conditions of calamity leave depend on the employer's policies and any applicable labor agreements.

Special Leave

Employees may be granted special leave for various reasons, such as:

  • Caregiving leave: To care for a seriously ill family member.
  • Adoption leave: Leave granted in the case of adoption.
  • Official duties: Leave to fulfill civic duties (e.g., jury duty).
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