Minister ups pressure on PostNL over ‘self-employed’ status

The cabinet is putting pressure on PostNL to re-employ hundreds of parcel delivery workers because they are not really self-employed, the Financieele Dagblad says on Thursday.

A spokesman for social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher, who has made combating the abuse of self-employed status a central part of his policies, has confirmed the discussions, the Financieele Dagblad says.

The company denies the delivery workers are not really acting as independent companies. ‘These entrepreneurs are client-focused and flexible,’ a spokesman told the paper.

One client

PostNL works with some 3,500 independent delivery firms and around 1,000 of them only have one client, PostNL, the paper says. In order to qualify as self-employed for tax purposes, a freelancer must have at least three customers.

The company has been reducing staff numbers in recent years in an effort to cut costs in the face of competition from other delivery firms and digitalisation.

Sources told the FD it would be financially difficult for the company to re-employ delivery workers as ordinary staff.


Maurice Jacobs, who represents a number of self-employed delivery staff who went on strike last year, says the fake independent status is shown by the demands PostNL places on them.

‘These sub-contractors have to follow all sorts of instructions about the routes they take, their clothing and the way their van’s are organised. That would imply a more formal relationship,’ he told the paper.

Jacobs says he suspects the company has a deal with the tax office to allow so many delivery workers without the required three clients and VAR statement of independence.

PostNL told the FD it has various agreements with the tax office covering different subjects.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation