More people get flexible job contracts but most are students: CBS

In 2017, 25% of the 7.9 million working population of the Netherlands had a flexible employment contract, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday. The CBS said the numbers of ‘flexiworkers’ had increased by more than 850,000 between 2003 and 2017. This increase was largely taken up by youngsters under the age of 25 who now account for seven out of 10 flexible contracts, compared with four in 10 15 years ago. Often people are forced into accept flexible contracts because they cannot find a traditional permanent job. The CBS said, however, that 80% of the under-25s with a flexible contract were students who combined part time work with their study.  More >

'Enormous task' to retrain energy workers

The transition from fossil forms of energy to new types such as wind, solar or geothermal requires huge investment, not only in technology but especially in people,'  the government's highest advisory board SER has told parliament. The government plans to phase out coal-fired power plants as part of its strategy to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and 2,700 jobs at five plants are at stake. The pending closure of the Dutch onshore and offshore gas fields will swell the ranks of workers in the fossil-fuel fired energy plants who need retraining for jobs in the sustainable sector. In total, SER says, tens of thousands of jobs are affected. Workers at power plants are well paid and highly specialised, making a move to new jobs in or out of the energy sector difficult. Some of the coal- and gas-fired power plants can be switched over to other forms of electricty generation such as biomass or wood chips. The government's CO2 reduction goals, however, rely heavily on sustainable energy production. 'The energy transition offers opportunities for employment, innovation and a more sustainable climate. But bottlenecks in the larbour market need to be adressed urgently. And this requires cooperation on all levels,'said SER chairman Mariëtte Hamer. However, skills, training schemes and pay-and-conditions agreements differ widely and some workers even face loss of pensions, experts in the field told the Financieele Dagblad in reaction to the SER report on Friday. The technical  installation sector expects some 20,000 job vacancies by 2020, according to its employers organisation Uneto-Vni. It has opened an energy transition desk and claims workers can move easily into new, green jobs in the sector. Uneto-Vni has 5,000 members with combined annual turnover of €13bn and a workforce numbering 120,000.  More >

Dutch unemployment rate falls again

The official Dutch unemployment rate fell again to 3.9% in March, down from 4.1% in February, the national statistics agency CBS said on Thursday. This is the lowest figure in over 10 years, the CBS said. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said the challenge now is 'to ensure that people who are still looking for a job find one that suits them'. In particular, the construction industry and healthcare sector need more properly trained staff, the minister said. The new figures mean that 8.7 million people in the Netherlands have a job of at least 12 hours a week. A further 4.2 million people do not work, most of whom are not looking for a job at present. The CBS also says that the gap between the male and female unemployment rate is shrinking. In March 3.8% of men and 4.1% of women were without a job.  More >

Disabled plan has zero benefit: CPB

Paying people with a disability less than the legal minimum wage is not going to result in significantly more jobs for this group, the government's macro-economic policy unit CPB said on Wednesday. The controversial plan, which was launched by junior social affairs minister Tamara van Ark (VVD), was studied by the CPB and ‘the final effect is nil’, CPB researcher Patrick Koot told the AD. At the moment companies that employ disabled people are given a subsidy by the local council and the person in question is paid according to the same collective labour agreement as his or her colleagues. In the new plan the employer only pays for productivity of the person with a disability, who can then claim a top-up to minimum wage level from their local council. According to the CPB, people who work part-time will want to increase the number of hours they work. However, there is no incentive to work full time because the minimum wage is the maximum they will be able to earn. Assets In addition, the disabled will not be entitled to top-up pay from the council if other people in their household are working or if the person involved has other financial assets. Koot has been invited to discuss the CPB findings with MPs on Wednesday along with Amber Bindel, who represents a group which fights for equal rights for the disabled in the workplace, and wants the cabinet to ditch the plan. The Dutch human rights commission has also slammed the proposals, saying they are discriminatory.  More >

Human rights body slams disabled plan

The Dutch human rights commission has criticised government plans to allow employers to pay workers with a physical or mental disability below the minimum wage. Ministers say allowing employers to break minimum pay rates will courage them to take on more disabled staff. Thousands of disabled people have ended up jobless after the government began closing down special sheltered workplaces several years ago. The plan involves allowing employers to pay disabled workers according to their productivity. So if someone is considered 50% disabled, the employer can pay them 50% of the minimum wage. Local authorities will then make up the difference. However, the human rights commission said in its ruling this is discriminatory because disbaled workers will be in a worse position in terms of pensions and fair rewards for their work. By forcing people to ask local authorities for top-up income, they will also fall under the same rules as welfare benefit claimants. And that means no extra income if other people in the household are working or if the person involved has other financial assets. The commission's rulings are not binding on the government. The plan has been severely criticised since it was launched at the end of last month. So far over 68,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to drop the idea.  More >

Wages cost employers an average €38.40

The average gross wage in the Netherlands, including all employer costs, was around €34.80 an hour in 2017, according to new research by European statistics agency Eurostat. That is a rise of 2.4% on 2016 and roughly in line with increase in the EU as whole, Eurostat said. Denmark topped the list with an average hourly rate of €42.50, followed by Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and France, then the Netherlands. Bulgaria was bottom of the list, with a gross average wage of €4.90 an hour, followed by Romania on €6.30. The figures are based on companies with at least 10 employees and exclude farming and the civil service.  More >

Four in 100 commuters walk to work

Just over 4% of all commutes from home to work are taken on foot, according to the national statistics office CBS on Thursday, the third annual Walk-to-Work day in the Netherlands. On journeys of less than a kilometre, nearly half of commuters walked to their job, 40% went by bike and 9% travelled by car. While walkers represented 4% of the commuter compass, 25% of all commutes to work were made by bike and 60% by car on an average day, the CBS said. The bike was the favoured means of transport for 60% of people travelling between one and 3.7 kilometres to work, while 25% drove in a car. A hearty 9% made the entire journey on foot. The percentage of walkers dropped off sharply after that: 80% of commuters travelling 16 kilometres or more used a car, while only 10% used the train.  More >

Women drive growth in home working

The number of working women who are based fully or partly in their own homes has increased substantially in the past five years, the national statistics office CBS reported on Monday. The CBS said the number of people working from home increased by 300,000 in the five years to 2017, with most of the increase due to women. Female freelancers who work in the language-related or creative sectors are most likely to be home-based for at least part of the time, with women in managerial jobs a close second. In 2017, more than three million people worked from home on a part-time or full-time basis. This equates to nearly 37% of all people in jobs in the Netherlands. Several years ago working at home was hailed in the Netherlands as the 'new way of working'. This was due partly because it saved on office space, partly because it was assumed people working at home would be happier and thus more productive, and partly to reduce rush-hour traffic.   More >

Lecherous lecturer gets €65,000

A lecturer at Amsterdam's hbo college who made sexually explicit comments to his students, has been awarded €65,000 severance pay because of ‘negligence’ by his employer in the way he was sacked. The college had been notified about the comments, inappropriate behaviour and unexpected outbursts of anger by the lecturer between 2013 and 2017 but did nothing, broadcaster AT5 reported. As many as six students reported incidents to the college board, with one saying she had been granted ‘permission’ to skip a class if she sent him ‘a photo of herself in a wet t-shirt competition’. Some students also reported inappropriate embraces and kisses. The behaviour of the lecturer were never discussed during the annual staff evaluation talks and the complaints were not followed up. In a ruling made public on Thursday the court said the college's move to fire the lecturer after it investigated complaints made in 2017, was too little too late. While calling the actions of the man ‘intolerable’, the judge said ‘an employer should in this day and age take complaints of inappropriate behaviour and/or comments by its staff seriously and handle them with the utmost care and transparency.’ Because no action was taken on the earlier complaints and the lecturer was not informed of the complaints, the college had no grounds to fire him and has been ‘severely negligent in its duties towards a member of its staff,’ the court said. The lecturer, who is on sick leave ‘with serious psychiatric problems’ will receive a total of  €65,000 in severence pay.  More >