Employers and trade unions agree on curtailing flexible work

August 5, 2021 by No Comments

Employers and trade unions have reached a draft agreement on new rules on work. They will mainly make recommendations to the next cabinet to reduce the large amount of flexible work in the Netherlands. Sources confirm this after reporting in de Volkskrant.

The social partners want to limit agency work, among other things. The maximum duration of flexible temporary employment contracts, currently 5.5 years, will then be shortened to 3 years. The period in which a temporary worker may be sent away from one day to the next should be one year. Now it’s a year and a half.

With their joint ‘medium-term advice’, as the agreement is called, the employers’ clubs and trade unions expect to be able to exert a great deal of influence on the coalition agreement of the next cabinet.

It is attractive for government parties to adopt their plans, because it is not often that laws can count on the support of employers’ and employees’ organizations in advance. This increases the chance of support from opposition parties.

‘Prohibit call contract’

The agreement is intended to be presented on Wednesday by the Social and Economic Council (SER), the advisory body of employers’ organizations (VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland, LTO), trade unions (FNV, CNV, VCP) and expert ‘crown members’. mostly professors.

According to de Volkskrant The SER also advises to prohibit on-call contracts and to set a minimum hourly rate for independent entrepreneurs who are hired by companies. That would have to be 35 euros per hour to qualify for favorable tax rates. Earlier attempts by Minister Wouter Koolmees (Social Affairs, D66) to introduce a minimum rate for the self-employed failed, partly because trade unions and employers found the plans impracticable.

This polder agreement follows a report that the Borstlap Committee presented at the beginning of last year about future rules on work. Those rules must be completely overhauled, advised the committee, which was set up by Minister Koolmees. The amount of flexible work must be reduced, advised the committee led by former senior civil servant Hans Borstlap. But at the same time, people with a permanent contract have to give up some of their rights. So that it becomes more attractive for employers to hire people on a permanent basis.

Employee rights

The SER advice mainly contains recommendations to limit flexible work, say those involved. According to insiders, the rights of employees are hardly affected in the agreement.

Employers should be given more flexibility in a different way, writes De Volkskrant. For example, with the option of having employees hand in up to 20 percent of their working hours, if there is temporarily less work. The boss then pays less wages, while the employee does receive a full salary. It is not yet clear how that salary will be supplemented.

The newspaper also describes an advisory report on the obligation to accompany sick employees for two years on their return to the workplace. This obligation to supervise should lapse for sick employees of whom it is already clear after one year that they cannot return to their old job. The UWV benefits agency or the company’s insurer should then take over that responsibility.