Many self-employed are poor, but happy

saving two euros in a piggy bankOne in six freelancers lives below the poverty line compared with just 3% of people in regular employment, according to research by the government’s socio-economic think tank SCP.

In addition, four out of 10 self-employed have claimed unemployment or disability benefits at some point, compared with three in 10 people in regular work, the SCP says.

Nevertheless, 82% of freelancers are happy with their working lives and only 6% would like a traditional job. The think tank bases its conclusions on studies carried out in 2011 and 2012.

New legislation

The SCP was asked to look at the position of self-employed workers by the government, which is currently working on ways to tackle the rise in the number of freelancers.

Some 800,000 people in the Netherlands currently work as freelancers or as one-man companies (zzp’er), up from 630,000 five years ago. That figure is expected to top one million by 2020.

The prime minister and ministers of finance, economic affairs and social affairs hope to publish their first ideas in early December.

Other research papers leaked to the Financieele Dagblad last week show that the self-employed tax-free allowance of €7,280 is likely to go, and the tax break for start-ups and the corporate tax break for small firms are also up for discussion.

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