After 25 years of pastry, flex agreement is ‘good news for workers in uncertainty’

The unions and employers agree on how to change flexwork in the Netherlands. Today, under the leadership of the Socio-Economic Council (SER), the parties presented an advisory report on this subject. Hans Borstlap, whose committee issued its opinion on this last year, calls it a โ€œcelebration of recognitionโ€.

One has a series of changes in mind. There will soon be three forms of employment: a permanent contract, self-employment and temporary employment. Temporary workers may only be employed in peak periods and in case of illness and for a maximum period of three years. Thats five years now.

Good news for uncertain jobs

โ€œ This agreement is good news in the medium term for the group of workers permanently stuck in uncertain jobs,โ€ says Hanneke Bennaars, Professor of Labour Law (UvA) and member of the Breastflap Commission. โ€œThink of the 20- to 40-year-olds who want to start a family and get shot back and forth between temporary and flex.โ€

In addition, the zero hour contract disappears in the advisory report. However, an exception is made for pupils and students. โ€œThats a positive development,โ€ says Hendarin Mousseli. As a lawyer on employment law, she mainly assists entrepreneurs in the temporary employment sector, such as the hospitality industry, where people rely heavily on these groups.

All in all, the advisory report is a fundamental change in direction for employers and employees, says Borstlap. โ€œIt is very important that the social partners now take a new path in organizing the labour market for the coming years.โ€

He calls it a โ€œbreakthroughโ€ that the social partners are committed to giving all workers a more level playing field. โ€œNow every worker gets incapacity insurance and learning facilities so you can learn throughout your life. There will also be facilities for work to work. This is very important, because there is a lot of work again while 1.1 million people are sitting at home who can partially work.โ€

Theres another wind blowing, signaling Benders. โ€œIt is above all the tone and atmosphere that strike me: investments and regulations go hand in hand and I find that innovative.โ€ She agrees that there will always be details in such a report that someone is dissatisfied with. โ€œThere is no design that every employer and employee can fully find themselves in. You have to find a balance, and thats what happened here.โ€

The advisory report also proposes that the government take over part of the salary from permanent employees if the company where they work finds themselves in economic difficulties. โ€œI doubt that the government will do this later,โ€ says Bennaars. โ€œThat will still be discussed in a subsequent cabinet.โ€ According to Borstlap, this is an important point and important for the promotion of permanent contracts.

Criticism from self-employed

Not everyone can agree with the advisory report. The Vereniging Zelfstandigen Nederland (VZN), which represents more than 100,000 self-employed workers in the Netherlands, sounds dissatisfaction.

One of the criticisms is that it refers to compulsory invalidity insurance aimed at self-employed workers. โ€œThere is no support for this at all among self-employed workers,โ€ says Cristel van de Ven. Her organisation advocates a collective basic provision for incapacity for work for all workers, which is why self-employed workers can contribute and make use of.

Incidentally, the VZN was not at the table at the talks and made a different proposal earlier this week together with other parties.

The question now is how The Hague picks up the glove. โ€œI think that politics is sensitive to such an agreement, since the support of employers and employees is assured,โ€ says Borstlap. โ€œPolitics do very wisely to draw this to itself.โ€

Lastly, Borstlap notes that the advisory report is well in line with the election programmes of the major parties. โ€œWhat more do you want? This is a unique moment, after 25 years of pastry egg. The previous agreement dates back to 1996.