Between 5,500 and 6,000 unofficial employment agencies are operating in the Netherlands with some 80,000 illegal immigrants on their books, according to research carried out for temporary employment agency association ABU.
Two years ago, around 65,000 people were working through illegal agencies, ABU said.
Researchers estimate illegal workers are doing the equivalent of between 29,000 and 56,000 full-time jobs meaning the government is missing out on up to €260 mln in unpaid taxes and premiums. MPs on Thursday called on the government to increase its controls on illegal labour. In particular, the horticulture and construction sectors have a reputation for employing illegal staff.
ABU claims that despite a relaxation of the rules governing Polish workers – who traditionally come to the Netherlands to pick fruit – many still go to illegal agencies to avoid the complicated permit system. ‘With open borders, eastern Europeans could find work through the legal channels,’ ABU said. Last year fines were increased so that companies are now charged €8,000 for each illegal worker, while private individuals must pay €4,000 (the average fine used to be €1,000). Last year government inspectors handed out fines totalling €26 mln to employers found with illegal immigrants on their books. Nevertheless, a quarter of companies reoffended this year, says the labour inspectorate.
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