The new cabinet has been in place for some time now, there is an ambitious coalition agreement on the table, and the new ministers have settled in reasonably well. This is noticeable in The Hague. Officials are busy writing policy plans and the Lower House is also regularly debating. A good time to briefly take you through the most important events and developments of the past few weeks.

EU proposal platform work

It is clear that Brussels is becoming more and more explicitly involved in national affairs and issues. Not entirely surprisingly, last December the European Commission came up with a proposal to better protect platform workers. Patience with Uber and Deliveroo has been running out in Brussels for quite some time, and in the new directive, the European Commission demands that platform workers be given the same rights and obligations as employees. Since the issue of platform work plays out in several European countries, Brussels is now picking up the gauntlet to come up with clear guidelines and criteria to clarify the qualification of the employment relationship.
The proposal sets out five criteria for determining whether an employee is an employee or a self-employed person. These are as follows:
1. The platform determines the remuneration of the worker;
2. The platform sets requirements for the appearance of the worker (for example, he must wear a uniform); 3;
3. The platform monitors the worker's performance through digital means;
4. The platform determines working hours;
5. The platform limits the worker's ability to work for others.

Should it remain in practice that there are two or more criteria, it will be up to the platform to prove that there is still a zzp'er rather than an employee. According to European Union calculations, this will have a major impact on the Dutch treasury, as billions in tax revenue and social security contributions can be benefited.

Now, there are some fundamental questions that need to be asked about this proposal and the whole discussion about platform work. For what exactly is the definition of a platform? And is this proposal only about tackling false self-employment among platform workers, or is this proposal about the mediation and classification of self-employed workers in general? In any case, last weeks it became clear that all political parties agree that this proposal is going to have an effect on the self-employment issue in the Netherlands. The discussion about when a self-employed person is really self-employed has been going on in the Netherlands for a long time and many attempts to clarify this have failed and have been put on ice. This fatigue is an extra reason to be alert, because The Hague should not accept this proposal too easily and should clearly guard the line between vulnerable platform workers and true self-employed workers. It is likely that public bodies such as the Tax Office and the Labor Inspectorate will be allowed to use these criteria to test and enforce the presumption of employment. This immediately indicates that the proposal is not only aimed at protecting the vulnerable platform worker, but that it also gives public law bodies tools to start enforcement. We will therefore need to monitor developments closely and inform Chamber members of our interests and concerns as early as possible.

Mainline debate Social Affairs and Employment

On Thursday, February 17, the Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs and Employment debated the plans in the coalition agreement with the new ministers of Social Affairs and Employment. Various themes were addressed in the debate and with 19 political groups, it went in all directions at times. Fortunately, the debate also focused on topics that are important to us, such as the web module, the enforcement moratorium and clarity regarding the hiring of the self-employed.

Prior to the debate, we as HeadFirst Group provided input and asked several members of parliament to provide more clarity on the further development of the web module and enforcement of the DBA law. It was good to see that parties returned to this during the debate. The market is yearning for clear and enforceable rules after all these years.

Although the minister did not answer our questions directly, there were certainly some bright spots. For example, the minister himself indicated that only a small percentage of workers on the labor market are 'vulnerable self-employed' and that we should focus on those sectors where the chance of false self-employment is greatest. This interfaces with the Belgian model that we previously wrote a report about with ZiPconomy and ONL, and we have also been advocating sectoral enforcement for some time. The minister has also promised to come up with a "broad plan" on labor market reform before the summer and to outline this in a letter and share it with the House of Representatives.