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Freelancers earn little but are happy with their independence

Monday 28 November 2011

Most freelancers in the Netherlands are happy with their position in the labour force although just over 50% earn less than €25,000 a year, according to new research for the social affairs ministry.

The research also shows just one in five freelancers – known as zzp’ers or zelfstandigen zonder personnel – have taken out insurance against loss of income if they become ill and only 2 in five are insured against long-term illness.

The research comes at a time of mounting concern about the hidden unemployment among freelancers, who are not entitled to jobless benefits if their work dries up.

Jobless total

The Netherlands has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, at 5.8%, but this may partly be due to hidden jobless among the country’s 750,000 freelancers, Nos television reported at the weekend.

Some 4.8% of the working population is officially registered as freelancers, almost double the figure from a year ago.

Ferdinand Grapperhaus, a labour law professor and a member of the government’s SER advisory body, says freelancers’ income has reduced sharply and many have few reserves left.


He wants the government to introduce a compulsory insurance for freelancers to make sure they can call on state benefits if they find themselves in financial difficulty.

The figures show one in eight of the 2,200 freelancers questioned for the report would prefer to have a regular job. This represents 45,000 to 55,000 people who are technically unemployed but don’t appear in the official figures, Grapperhaus says.

Social affairs minister Henk Kamp is looking into the reason why so few freelancers take out insurance against loss of income.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

As any ZZP'er will tell you, the cost of insurance against loss of income is ridiculously high and actually provides very little coverage for a stupidly short period of time. In other words, it is nowhere near being cost effective.

By Russell | 28 November 2011 2:58 PM

I am a freelancer. I was ill with cancer for 18 months and unable to work. During this time I was not even elligable for bijstand (despite having paid 20+ years of sociale premies). I also had to pay council tax, and my income was at zero. The bank stole (yes, I mean stole) what financial buffer I had. Why am I still not insured against loss of income? Simply because no insurance comopany will take on somebody who has had cancer. The dutch government seems to really hate hard working freelancers.

By Andy | 28 November 2011 4:05 PM

Freelancers get a raw deal, if no work comes in they get no benefits for a long long time, they pay the same tax get very few tax offsets in the way of contributions towards electric etc. and they earn little money. Time they got up and did somthing about it? I would, they are downtrod and save the government many millions when they are out of work or ill.

By AndyT | 28 November 2011 5:19 PM

I guess many of us would welcome a SAFE job with security, but these days, with an unstable and failing currency, we will continue to face uncertainty.'And as you know, this effects confidence in all sectors, private and government.

Another big problem is that if you don't earn enough with freelance work, you end up working for nothing, and with a minimum income!

By The visitor | 28 November 2011 5:39 PM

13.9 million Americans are still unemployed, 42% of whom have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. The figures do not include people who took seasonal jobs, temporary work, having to accept minimum wages since their unemployment benefits were used up. These reports never mention how average families are supposed to pay for their basic living essentials like, home ( or rental), utilities, food, medical care working part-time jobs with minimum wages making under $20.000 a year- Sustainable maybe for a single person living at home with parents but almost impossible for a family having any children. 49.9 million Americans do not have medical insurance and doctors often refuse to treat them even at hospitals.

By Johnson | 28 November 2011 6:32 PM

Social affairs minister Henk Kamp is looking into the reason why so few Freelancers take out insurance against loss of income? Duuhhhh.... I would would have thought the answer was obvious. Most earn less than 50% of the average salary. Take away compulsory health insurance, the all too necessary supplementary insurance, taxes etc.... etc... and what else are they left with to buy yet more insurance???

By Steve | 28 November 2011 6:38 PM

The answer is simple, Mr Kamp. Insurance against illness is so bloody expensive and has so many conditions attached that it is just not worth it.

By Shirley | 28 November 2011 9:20 PM

@Johnson. We are talking about the Netherlands. Comparison with the USA is a standard Dutch trick, used to deflect attention from the disgusting policies of the Dutch government. BTW, Nederland is the only EU country whose residents are required to buy a private medical policy. Why? Ask Alain Enthoven and Hans Hoogervorst.

By Husserl | 29 November 2011 10:01 AM

Shirley, nobody could have said it better. That is exactly the problem. Prohibitively expensive, and provides no real cover. If it pay out, even.

By Andy | 29 November 2011 11:49 AM

my partner has an own small busines, with some part time staff. She was long term sick her insurance did not pay for staff who could run the business in her absence.
Worse the doctor from the insurance decided she was fit for work - only but not in her own business - so they stopped payements

By nd | 30 November 2011 1:36 PM

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