On 3 April, the Dutch Social Affairs and Employment Minister sent a parliamentary letter containing proposals for labour market reforms. These plans are expected to be submitted to Parliament in spring 2024. In this blog, we list the key reforms.
1. On-call contracts will soon be banned
On-call contracts, such as zero-hours and min/max contracts, will be abolished. Instead, a standard contract will be introduced. Within this standard contract, employees must remain available to the employer for a number of hours above the minimum number of hours. The range will be set with a hard percentage (130 per cent of the minimum number of hours).
An exception will be made for schoolchildren and students with part-time jobs, they can still continue to work on the basis of the current on-call contracts. Besides the standard contract, contracts with annual hours standards will remain possible. Furthermore, this standard contract will probably be subject to the low WW premium.
2. Provisions on succession of fixed-term employment contracts will be stricter
The current 6-month interruption period for chains of fixed-term contracts will be changed to a period of five years. This means that if there is a period of five years or more between two employment contracts with the same employer, the chain of fixed-term contracts an employee may enter into with that employer will start anew.
This longer interruption period will also apply to temporary agency workers, but an exception is made for students. Furthermore, the current possibility to deviate from duration and number of contracts by collective agreement will be eliminated.
3. More security for temporary agency workers after one year
After 52 weeks, temporary agency workers will be entitled to a contract that cannot be terminated at any time. Furthermore, the employment conditions of temporary agency workers will become even closer to those of permanent staff. The law already stipulates that the employment conditions of temporary workers, such as salary, compensation, working hours and rest periods, must be at least equal to those of employees employed by the company. This rule is being expanded to include all other employment conditions, which must also be at least equivalent.
4. More replacement options after 1 year of illness
Employers with fewer than 100 employees will soon be able to obtain clarity on the possibility of permanently replacing an employee after one year of illness, so that they can continue their business operations. Employers will still be responsible for two years’ sick pay and for the progress of the reintegration process.
5. Employers get crisis scheme for more flexibility
The government wants to introduce a crisis scheme whereby employers can deploy their permanent staff more flexibly in the event of calamities, such as a new pandemic. Employees can be deployed differently or elsewhere for six months, or work at least 20% less while receiving 10% less pay. However, this is only possible if the works council agrees and the labour unions have been informed.
6. Preventing pseudo self-employment
The government wants to clarify the rules surrounding the qualification of the employment relationship, make them more claimable and enforce them better. In addition, the government is working on a so-called ‘civil-law legal presumption of an employment contract’, linked to an hourly rate.
7. Other proposals
In addition, there will be compulsory self-employed insurance, the minister makes a proposal to improve access to employment law for employees, and announces that she will provide more information both this spring and this summer on measures on lifelong development and work-to-work pathways.
Do you have questions about the Labour Market Progression Letter? Contact one of our lawyers.