Unions, employers work on plan to reform sick pay

Dutch unions, employers’ organisations and independent experts are working on a ‘handful of radical reforms’ to close the gap between freelancers and people on permanent contracts, the Financieele Dagblad said at the weekend.

The aim is to create more financial security for freelancers and to make it less risky for companies to take on staff on formal contracts, the paper said.

‘The explosive growth in the number of self-employed’ is having a serious impact on the social security system because fewer employees and employers are paying premiums, the FD said. This, employers and unions fear, will make the system too expensive in the long run.


Some 800,000 to one million people in the Netherlands are classed as ‘self-employed’, meaning they do not pay social security and other premiums and are not entitled to the associated benefits.

The plan currently being worked out includes cutting the length of time employers have to pay sick pay from two years to eight weeks. Longer periods of illness would be paid for from a collective fund, which the self-employed will also have to contribute to.

However, there are concerns that many freelancers do not earn enough to be able to contribute to a sick pay fund, the FD said. Around 50% of self-employed workers earn less than €25,500 a year.

The plan will be discussed within the auspices of the Social and Economic Council – the government’s most senior advisory body – in a few weeks, the FD said.

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