Not one Dutch firm has been fined for employing 'bogus' freelancers

Not one company in the Netherlands has been fined in the past two years for employing bogus freelancers - people who are treated as self-employed but in reality work for one company - according to research by the NRC. The tax office has started 49 investigations into possible abuse of the rules governing self-employment but 38 failed to produce enough evidence and 11 are still underway, the paper said. Maurice Limmen, chairman of the CNV trade union federation, has described the figures as 'very sad'. 'This proves what we have been saying for a long time,' he said. 'Tackling exploitation via bogus self employment has been left to go its own way. People who are being exploited should expect nothing from politicians.' It is cheaper for companies to employ freelancers because they don't have to pay pension and other premiums on their behalf and can get round redundancy regulations. Research by the OECD suggests some 15% of people in the Netherlands who are officially self-employed are actually employed by the company they work for because, for example, they only have one place of work and have fixed hours. MPs are due to debate the rise in self-employment with social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees on Wednesday  More >

Median incomes barely rise in 10 years

Workers' annual pay has hardly increased in 10 years when inflation is taken into account, the national statistics agency CBS said on Friday. In 2007 the median annual income of someone on a fixed contract was €34,100 but by 2017 that had risen by just over €1,000 to €35,200, the CBS said. At the same time, the median income of someone who is self-employed rose just €500 to €28,000, the CBS said. Men have a far higher median income than women - €42,300 compared to €27,100 - but this is largely due to women working part time. And there is little difference in male and female income up to the age of 25. Median income is not the same as average salary. It refers to the amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount.  More >

Freelancers more likely to earn low wages

An increasing number of the self-employed risk ending up living below the poverty line, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. The CBS considers someone is at risk of living in poverty if they earn less than €1,040 after tax as a single person, or €1,960 for a family with two children. In 2013 some 250,000 working people were in such a position and that total had declined in the years up to 2017. But in 2017, the last year for which the CBS has figures, the number of freelancers with a very low income was rising again. In 2017, 1.6% of people with a permanent contract were on a very low income, down from 2.3% in 2013. The freelance poverty rate, which had fallen from 10.6% to 8.1%, rose again in 2017 to 8.6%, the CBS said. 'Freelance income is always a little more precarious than that of people in traditional jobs because the number of jobs they get fluctuates,' CBS chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen told broadcaster NOS. 'However, freelancer usually benefit more from economic growth than people in regular jobs. That effect would now appear to be over.'  More >

One in 20 workers gets minimum wage

Around 6% of workers in the Netherlands are still paid according to minimum pay rates, the national statistics agency CBS said on Friday, ahead of celebrations to mark 50 years since the concept was introduced in the Netherlands. People working via staffing agencies and in the hospitality sector are most likely to earn minimum pay rates, the CBS said. In total, 23% of people from new EU member states such as Poland and 9% of people from outside the EU earn the minimum wage of €1,615.80 gross for a 40-hour week. The number of people earning minimum pay rates has remained around 6% since the turn of the century. 'This percentage should go down when the economy is performing better and there are more jobs,' Arend van Wijngaarden, chairman of the CNV trade union federation told the AD. 'We are calling on companies to pay more than minimum pay rates so that workers can benefit as well. The cost of living is continually going up.' On Saturday it was 50 years ago that the adult minimum wage of 611.70 guilders - around €278 - was first brought in.  More >

UWV fails to re-assess invalidity claims

The Dutch benefits payment agency UWV is failing to carry out repeat medical checks on tens of thousands of people currently claiming benefits because they are too ill to work, according to research by television current affairs show Nieuwsuur. Around 800,000 people are currently claiming some sort of invalidity benefit, according to the national statistics office CBS. In 2016, ministers pledged to ensure the backlog of 25,000 check-ups was dealt with but instead the total has risen to 30,000, Nieuwsuur said. This figure does not include a further 180,000 people with health problems which doctors expect to improve. 'We think they should all be checked but the ministry has decided otherwise,' Wim van Pelt, chairman of the insurance industry doctors association said. 'So these people are not included in the official statistics.' Current UWV policy means that only people who request a health check or whose employer asks for one are reassessed by a doctor. UWV figures do show that 10% of people who are given a new medical check-up lose their rights to invalidity benefit entirely. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees told the programme that the current situation is worrying and that action needs to be taken. He has suggested allowing people who are not trained doctors carry out the medical assessments because a shortage of specialised doctors is one reason that the backlog has built up.  More >