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 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.  More >

Pay rises near 3% in May

Pay rises agreed in collective bargaining with unions averaged just under 3% last month, the highest level since the financial crisis hit 10 years ago, according to employers organisation AWVN. In total, 26 pay deals (CAOs) were sealed last month, giving workers an average pay increase of 2.96%, the AWVN said. Earlier, the national statistics agency CBS said the average pay rise over the first three months of the year was 2.2%, prompting the organisation's chief economist to ask why companies were not paying more, given the shortage of staff in some sectors. The AWVN says 425 pay deals covering 3.1 million workers expire this year.   More >

Ministries spend €1.4bn on external staff

Dutch government ministries spent €1.4bn last year hiring external personnel, a rise of over 60% on 2011, the AD said on Wednesday. Six of the 12 ministries are breaking guidelines which say external hires should not account for more than 10% of personnel costs and the education and economic affairs ministries are spending 20% of their staffing budgets on outsiders. The education ministry says in its annual report the need for outsiders is 'so great that a speedy reduction towards 10% is unlikely'. In particular, student loan group DUO is heavily dependent on outside IT experts. The economic affairs ministry also blames the demand for IT staff. Some 40% of the government cash spent on outsiders goes on technical staff - a total of €530m last year.  By contrast, just €14m was spent on legal advice and €28m on accountancy services. Tilburg University labour market professor Ton Wilthagen told the AD that external staff are always more expensive and that he doubts the government is doing enough to attract talented IT experts. 'The government is not a bad employer,' he  points out. 'You get job security, lots of free days. That could be used in marketing the jobs, but does not happen.'  More >

Ministers launch new grants for training

The government is planning to scrap the tax break on the cost of work-related training courses and replace them with grants of up to €2,000 a year to allow people to further develop their career prospects. The social affairs and education ministry hope up to 200,000 people a year will take advantage of the new grant system. People will be able to use the cash to partly fund diplomas which will boost their skills or make them more employable. The current system, based on tax breaks, is rarely used by people who work on temporary or flexible contracts, or who are in professions where the jobs market is shrinking, such as sales and administration, ministers say. 'It is important that people think about the future of their jobs and that they take action,' social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said. 'This is key, not only to the jobs market. But it is also beneficial personally to learn new skills.' The new grant system - known as as a Stap budget - was included in the coalition agreement and slated to come into effect in January 2020. However, the start date has been delayed and the system of tax breaks will remain next year, the AD said. The grants will be applied for online and the money paid directly to the training institute, to stop potential fraud.  More >

Jobs growth set to continue but may slow

The number of jobs in the Dutch economy will continue to grow in 2019 and 2020 but the increase will be slower than in previous years, the government jobs agency UWV said in its latest forecasts on Tuesday. The two year forecast of 309,000 extra jobs will take the total number of positions in the Dutch economy to 10.8 million, the agency said. In 2017 and 2018, the economy added 467,000 jobs. The workforce is not increasing by as much because the economy is growing less rapidly than in the previous four years, spokesman Rob Witjes said, adding that the unemployment rate may increase slightly next year. In addition, there are a number of uncertainties in the market, such as the trade war between the US and China, as well as Brexit, he said. The UWV also expects the number of people claiming unemployment benefit to have fallen to 234,000 by the end of next year, down 11% on the end of 2018. Most new jobs are being created in the care sector, due to increased demand for nursing and home care services as the population gets older. The retail sector and specialised business services are also continuing to grow. Some sectors, however, have declining workforces. In particular, the number of jobs in financial services will have fallen from 289,000 in 2007 to 212,000 by the end of 2020, the UWV said.  More >

Lowest incomes get more holiday pay

People on incomes from €34,000 a year will get less holiday pay this year because of changes to the tax system, the Telegraaf reported on Wednesday. The bonus is paid out at the end of this month to workers on fixed contracts. People who work for staffing agencies get a monthly payout. Minimum wage earners will have €35 more to spend on their holidays this year while people earning €34,000  - the average wage - will take a €3 cut, according to calculations by payroll company ADP. However, people earning around €72,000 will see their holiday pay reduced by €117 in this month's salary slips. Family spending institute NIBUD said in 2017 that 48% of people spent the bonus on holiday related activities while 40% put it away for a rainy day.  More >