Sunday 12 July 2020

Ministers publish plans to regulate freelancing, stop fake self-employment

More details have emerged about the government’s plans to regulate self-employment, although social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees says it could take up to 10 years to finalise the legislation.

Koolmees presented the plans on Monday as a ‘fundamental enrichment’ of labour law, but said it is more likely to take 10 than two years to see through the changes, news website Nu.nl reported.

The aim of the new measures, which divide the market into three groups, is to offer freelancers more certainty, while combating fake self-employment set ups, Koolmees said.

Bottom layer

At the bottom of the market, the government plans to ensure that the self-employed earn a gross wage of at least €16 an hour.  Given that the self-employed use around one third of their time on admin and other work-related tasks, this means a freelancer would earn €32 per three hours.

Social affairs ministers inspectors will ensure that freelancers are paid the minimum tariff, Koolmees said.

Middle level

The self-employed who earn less than €75 an hour will be subject to a new system of checks, replacing the VAR and DBA declarations.

When the new system is implemented, employers will have to answer questions online which will act as a check on whether the freelancer and the task they are being asked to to do classify as self-employment.

This will guarantee employers do not have to pay premiums and taxes on behalf of the freelancer, the minister said.

High earners

People earning over €75 an hour will be subject to a different regime and the relationship between the freelancer and company will be set down in a formal declaration, valid per contract for no longer than one year.

Freelancers may be asked to prove they have earned at least €75 an hour or the contract becomes invalid and their employer will have to pay premiums after all.

Experts

Labour market experts say they have doubts about the government’s new plans. although efforts to better regulate the bottom end of the market are a step forward.

‘But there is a risk the minimum tariff will become the maximum,’ Tilburg professor Ton Wilthagen told the Financieele Dagblad.

Some 8.6% of freelancers – mainly delivery workers – earn less than the current statutory minimum.

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