What you didn’t know about Liberation Day

Photo: Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, Bart Heemskerk

Once every five years, everyone has a mandatory day off on Liberation Day. At least, that’s a popular conception about the 5th of May – but as it turns out, it’s a misconception. This and three other myths about Liberation Day dispelled:

  • Once every five years, everyone has a day off on Liberation Day

Not exactly. While it is a public holiday, it’s up to your employer and it depends on the collective agreement in your industry whether you can count on a paid free day on the 5th of May every five years (if so: the next one will be 2020, so some patience is required). If you’re a student or a civil servant you’re probably lucky: they usually get a day off every year.

Not one of those lucky ones? Take some comfort in the fact that, with the 24-hour economy, ‘everyone’ is always a relative term: supermarkets, bars, and construction sites don’t just close for the day anymore. And obviously not all doctors can put down their work. 

  • Your free day is a gift from your employer

It can be, but again, it’s not mandatory. Employers can make you take an obligated day off. Some also do that on the Friday after Ascension Day. So while you’ll get a paid day off, it’s coming out of your own supply of personal holiday days.

  • It’s way too expensive to make Liberation Day a yearly day off for everyone

Several people and organisations have called for a yearly day off to celebrate our freedom, but many believe that will be too costly for society.

The cost to the economy of one day off has never really been calculated, Philip Hans Franses, Professor of Applied Econometrics and Professor of Marketing Research at Erasmus School of Economics, told NPO Radio 1. But we do know that it’s mainly longer holiday periods that are spread throughout the year that have consequences on the economy; when parts of the country – and therefore parts of the economy – are absent, it causes inefficiencies and delays in other parts of the economy. But if everyone is free on just one single day, it probably won’t really have negative consequences.

Plus, Franses says, ‘if you have a good reason to introduce a day off, and the 5th of May could be a good reason, the economic aspect doesn’t need to weigh heavy.’


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