Saturday 19 June 2021

Freelancers call for revised DBA law to recognise entrepreneurship

Wouter Koolmees. Photo: Arenda Oomen via

Lobby groups for freelance workers have called on social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees to reward entrepreneurship when the government reforms the law on labour relations.

A group of organisations headed by Bovib, which represents brokers and intermediaries, published a pamphlet criticising the cabinet’s stance on freelance work. They urge Koolmees to stop treating permanent contracts as the default position and recognise the contribution self-employed workers make to the workplace.

‘We want to offer a solution for the group of workers who actively choose to offer their labour on the market independently,’ they wrote. ‘The active choice for entrepreneurship should be the guiding factor in assessing how working relationships are defined.’

The government says the new DBA law should protect self-employed workers from ‘bogus freelancing’, where they have the same obligations as staff members without the same job security or benefits such as pension schemes.

It also wants to introduce a minimum rate of €16 an hour and a compulsory declaration scheme for contractors who charge €75 an hour or more so their clients are not liable for labour taxes, pensions and workers’ insurance contributions.

Research commissioned by Koolmees’s department found that between 75,000 and 100,000 people currently working freelance, or 10% to 13% of the total, would be entitled to a full-time contract under the cabinet’s proposals.

The cabinet has delayed implementing the law until January 2021 so it can ensure it meets its objectives. Revised plans are expected to be put before parliament before the summer recess.

The organisations, who began talks with Koolmees on Monday, say they support moves to protect freelancers but the law should not be detrimental to people who opt for self-employment.

‘Until now the definition of labour relations has always been based on whether or not someone is an employee. We want to change that focus and judge self-employed workers on their entrepreneurship,’ they wrote.

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