Number of flex workers on the rise in the Netherlands

Number of flex workers on the rise in the Netherlands

The share of workers with a flexible employment contract has risen from 12 percent (2001) to 16 percent (2012) of the Dutch employed labour force. The increase was caused by the larger share of employees with a temporary contract and the prospect of a permanent contract and stand-by workers. The share of self-employed people without employees rose from 7 to 10 percent of the employed labour force. These are just some of the results of the report on Dutch labour market dynamics Dynamiek op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt: De focus op flexibilisering (available in Dutch only), published by Statistics Netherlands and TNO.

Employees with flexible terms of employment are more likely to become unemployed or non-active and change employers than those with a permanent contract. Differences in job security are large between the various categories of flexible employment. Only 12 percent of employees with a temporary contract and the prospect of permanent contract became unemployed or non-active between 2011 and 2012, 15 percent moved to another employer. One year later, nearly half had a permanent contract with the same employer. One third of stand-by workers became unemployed or no longer worked, one in five worked for a new employer. In spite of this, one in eight stand-by workers worked in the same job continuously in the period 2007-2010.

Employees with flexible terms of employment not only have to contend with lower job security, they also often experience high work pressure and little autonomy in their work. As a result, they have higher health risks and lower availability rates than employees with a permanent position. Moreover, employees with a flexible contract have fewer opportunities for training and personal development.

Around three-quarters of self-employed persons without employees offer their own services to clients, one quarter sell products. The former group consists of younger and higher educated people, who work shorter hours and many of whom were in employment before they started their own business. When they discontinue their own business, most of them go to work for an employer. New one-man businesses that sell products are more likely to consist of persons who were not working before, and when they stop whey are more likely to be unemployed or non-active.

More than half a million employed people combine more than one job. Such job combinations do not have negative consequences for the health or work-life balance of these workers.

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