If it were up to Han Kolff, CEO of HeadFirst Group, and ONL chairman Hans Biesheuvel, the successor of outgoing minister Wouter Koolmees in a new cabinet would immediately start working on the position of the self-employed in the labor market. The flexibilization trend continues worldwide and requires good and clear regulation. The Netherlands can learn a lot from the situation in Belgium, California and Scandinavia. This is evident from research by independent knowledge platform ZiPconomy, commissioned by HeadFirst Group and ONL.


Positive reaction minister Koolmees
ONL voor Ondernemers and HeadFirst Group, market leader in the Benelux in the field of external hiring, want to work together with politicians to shape the labor market policy and make the labor market future-proof. Minister Koolmees takes the call seriously and took the report 'Independence, flexibility and social security. A look across the border'.
Hans Biesheuvel, Han Kolff and Frits Huffnagel recorded a podcast about the report with Koolmees.


Not only in the Netherlands is there a lot of discussion about laws and regulations around work. Therefore, ZiPconomy looked at how the aforementioned regions deal with social security, self-employment and rules around flexible work.

For both HeadFirst Group and entrepreneurs' organization ONL, it is clear: it is time to make decisions together - politics and business. There has been enough talk in recent years. Countries around us are making sharp choices and also in the Netherlands we have to make clear and unequivocal choices,' says Biesheuvel. Kolff, himself active in the flex industry for many years, agrees: 'There is a task for the new cabinet. Step by step we must work towards future-oriented solutions. A good first step is to think together about the introduction of a basic social system for all workers. By doing so, we will create a more level playing field, regardless of contract or legal form. I believe that many self-employed people in the Netherlands are willing to participate in this, in order to properly protect the bottom of the market and leave the market free above. In any case, we are happy to join the debate and invite all parties to think together about a feasible implementation.


Key research findings
'In Belgium, for specific sectors, where the risk of underpayment or vulnerable workers is high, nine additional criteria have been devised in determining the employment relationship. This approach contains much more customization and in this way false self-employment is effectively combated,' Kolff says. The report further states that the fiscal and social security differences between employees and the self-employed in Belgium are much smaller. Good examples for the Netherlands.

Researcher Hugo-Jan Ruts, also editor-in-chief of ZiPconomy, also examined California, the birthplace of the gig-economy. There, the ABC test was introduced in 2019; a test that uses three criteria to determine whether someone can be hired as self-employed. 'The format of the test is tantalizingly simple, but within a short time many professionals at the top end of the market were unable to get assignments because of these criteria. So even in California they have not yet found the solution to distinguish between vulnerable and non-vulnerable self-employed.' As the flexibilization trend continues unhardened there as well, consideration is being given to protecting the bottom of the market.

In outline, the Scandinavian situation is similar to the Dutch situation. There, too, there is discussion about making a clear distinction between employees and the self-employed. Criteria used in determining the employment relationship are - as here in the Netherlands - derived from case law. In Scandinavia there is a desire to make this set of criteria for determining the employment relationship more explicit and to lay them down by law. Adjusting these criteria is pre-eminently a task for politics. A recognizable call, then.


Also watch the roundtable discussion on the future of the labor market

Led by ONL founder Hans Biesheuvel, CEOs Han Kolff (HeadFirst Group), Jeroen Zwinkels (Manpower) and Dominique Hermans (Randstad) and chairman Cristel van de Ven of Vereniging Zelfstandigen Nederland talked about the future of the labor market. The roundtable can be viewed back on YouTube.