In recent years, the trend in The Netherlands, much like in other countries, has moved towards an increased use of independent contractors and short-term contracts, making the independent contractors a growing and increasingly more important group in the Dutch employment market.
Due to the economic crisis a lot of redundant employees are let go only to start (continue) working for their previous employer as an independent contractor. Therefore, they lose many of the rights and protections they had as an employee, while often doing the same work as before. Some have argued in legal literature there is – or there should be – a distinction between these so-called ‘dependent contractors’ versus the independent contractors, who are less dependent on one particular principal and have a better labor market position.
In response to the increase of independent contractors, the Dutch legislature has determined (mid-2012) that independent contractors are entitled to the same level of protection for health and safety at work as employees. The aim is to prevent the independent contractors and employees from competing with each other. To further strengthen the position of independent contractors and remove unnecessary barriers, the legislature has also taken several other measures. Among other things, the government passed a law on 1 April 2013 to give smaller businesses – including independent contractors – a better chance for procurement. The government has also taken measures to reduce the administrative burden for independent contractors.
Further to the implementation of the the Assessment of Employment Relationships (Deregulation) Act as of May 1st 2016 – as set out in paragraph IIb – there is (for the first time in years) a decrease in the use of independent contractors in the Netherlands. This new act creates uncertainty for contractors and principals about the legal status of their working relationship (contract for services or an employment agreement) and the (possible) financial consequences, which explains the decrease of the use of independent contractors at the moment.