This week, the Dutch government unveiled a slew of new rules designed to protect the future of the Dutch labour market. The package of policies includes mandatory insurance for self-employed people and new guidelines for workers’ contracts

Minister Van Gennip looking to protect Dutch labour market

In a statement, Karien van Gennip, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, said the package of measures would ensure that “people have more certainty about their income and their schedule,” and would allow for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands to “feel better protected in event of adversity.”

In essence, the package of rules has been designed to ensure the future of the Dutch labour market by protecting workers, safeguarding – and attracting – talent, and encouraging employees to work more hours. The government hopes the changes will encourage “more balance in the labour market”.

New rules for working in the Netherlands

Here’s a quick overview of the changes that are set to come into effect over the course of the coming years. 

Zero-hour contracts to be scrapped 

A key change to Dutch labour laws will see zero-hour contracts banned, meaning workers will instead sign what the government has called a fixed basic contract. The new contracts will explicitly state a minimum number of hours. Students working part-time will still be able to work under so-called on-call contracts. 

Tighter rules for temporary contracts

Under the current rules, workers with temporary contracts can leave a job and then return to the same job – on another temporary contract – after just six months. In the future, employers would only be able to recruit past employees after a period of five years has passed. With this, “we are putting an end to revolving door constructions, in which workers go from temporary contract to temporary contract for a long period of time,” the government explains. 

Mandatory insurance for freelancers and entrepreneurs

In order to better protect self-employed people (without employees) during periods where they’re unable to work (due to i.e. sickness or injury), the government will introduce a mandatory affordable insurance package (arbeidsongeschiktheidsverzekering) in 2027. Self-employed people who are already insured will not be required to switch to the new scheme. 

New system for employers looking to replace absent workers

In addition to new policies designed to protect workers, the government also wants to do more to protect employers and businesses. With this in mind, a new system will be introduced which allows small companies (up to 100 employees) to “get clarity after one year of illness about whether they can structurally replace the employee.” Currently, employees can only be replaced after a minimum period of two years of sickness.

New scheme to protect employees in times of crisis

Finally, the government has announced a new scheme, called the Crisis Scheme for Personnel Retention (Crisisregeling Personeelsbehoud), which supports “employers affected by a crisis of calamity that falls outside of the entrepreneurial risk (such as the coronavirus pandemic).” Through this scheme, employees are able to be transferred to a different position or work reduced hours for up to six months while retaining their right to unemployment benefits.

New rules for a balanced and future-proof labour market

Although no set date has been confirmed for the introduction of these new rules, Van Gennip hopes the changes will be passed by the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) in the spring of next year. The government plans to introduce all new policies over the course of the next three to four years.

“Security in your job ensures that you know when you work, that you know that you can make ends meet next month and that you can make plans for the future. Too many employees with a flexible contract or self-employed do not have that certainty,” Van Gennip explained. “This package of measures ensures a labour market that is better balanced, future-proof and, moreover, we maintain mutual solidarity.”

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