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.
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.