Thursday 08 December 2016

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Inspectors check claims of law-breaking at US embassy construction site

Inspectors check claims of law-breaking at US embassy construction site

Labour inspectors have confirmed to the AD that they have carried out checks on working conditions at the American embassy building under construction in Wassenaar and that an investigation is underway. 'We are looking into if one or more of the four laws which we are responsible for monitoring have been broken. These include the law on working hours and the law on employing foreigners,' spokesman Paul van der Burg told the paper. The AD says it has been told by two whistle-blowers that workers are being forced to work overtime on a structural basis and that foreign workers are being used whose paperwork is not in order. 'Nobody dares to speak out,' one is quoted as saying. 'Earlier this year two workers who stood up for their rights were sacked on the spot and removed from the Netherlands.' The paper says most of the 250 construction workers are 'foreign', mainly Romanian, Turkish and Bulgarian nationals and some have been brought into the Netherlands under the highly-skilled migrants scheme. An embassy spokesman told 'The US embassy is aware of these allegations and the US government will continue to cooperate to ensure full compliance with Dutch law. 'The US government complies with all local labour laws, including those protecting the rights of workers, and requires our contractors to do the same.   As is normal with projects of this scale, [the ministry] regularly reviews compliance with Dutch regulations.  We have not been made aware of any findings of irregularities under Dutch labour laws.'  More >

Young Dutch women earn more than men

Jobs The pay gap between men and women is closing and young women are actually overtaking men in some sectors, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. In 2014, female civil servants earned on average 5% less than a man in a comparable position, the CBS said. In 2008 the pay gap was 7%. In the private sector, the pay gap has also shrunk by two percentage points, from 9% to 7%. However, young women are in a different position. Twenty to 30-year-olds earn between 5% and 15% more than their male colleagues. ‘This is because more women than men study for a degree,’ CBS chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. ‘They are also more likely to graduate and to take less time over their degree, giving them more time to establish a career.’ Men catch up at around the age of 30 – or 36 in the case of the civil service. ‘This is the age when women start working less while men may actually increase their working hours,’ said Van Mulligen. ‘It is also around this age when women have children.’ Just 25% of women in the Netherlands work full time.  More >

Employers drop support for freelance rules

Jobs The two big Dutch employers organisations have dropped their support for the new rules on employing freelancers, the Financieele Dagblad said on Friday. In particular, the changes have made companies afraid of bringing in freelancers and have made 500,000 self employed people question their future, the employers say. Since the beginning of May, tax office-issued VAR certificates are no longer considered proof that someone is self employed. Instead they have been replaced by individual contracts between freelancer and client. While contracts are not compulsory, if the tax office decides that a freelancer is effectively an employee, the employer will be liable for social insurance premiums and other payments. Sham self-employment The aim of the changes is to stamp out sham self-employment, but in practice, companies are dropping their freelancers, critics say. Almost a quarter of employers questioned for an FD poll said they are using fewer freelancers, while 8% of freelancers told the paper they had lost contracts. 'It has to be done completely differently,' Hans de Boer, chairman of the VNO-NCW told the paper in an interview. He wants junior finance minister Erik Wiebes, who is responsible for the DBA legislation, to suspend it for two years while a new approach is worked out. Meanwhile, new figures from the national statistics office CBS show around one million people earn all or most of their income from freelance work. The figure is unchanged from the start of the year and there has been a slight rise in people closing down their businesses. Some 40% of freelancers, or zzp'ers in Dutch, have a college or university degree.  More >

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