Hourly rates for self-employed and seconded workers lag behind collective bargaining wages

Expected rate increase of one to two percent in 2024

The hourly rates of flexible workers, self-employed workers and professionals employed by secondment agencies, rose an average of 4.3 percent in 2023 compared to 2022. This increase lags slightly behind the trend in collective bargaining wages. An average rate increase of one to two percent is expected for 2024. This emerges from the latest Talent Monitor of labor market data specialist Intelligence Group and HR-tech service provider HeadFirst Group.

Over 2023, the average agreed wage increase for permanent staff was six percent, according to figures from CBS. HeadFirst Group's hiring data show that professionals who started a new assignment in 2023 experienced a lower increase, at 4.3 percent. The average hourly rate of highly skilled self-employed and seconded workers currently stands at €95.80.

The hourly rates of flexible workers have risen continuously in recent years, over 2022 and 2023 even by more than four percent. Due to the faltering economy, the increasing supply of self-employed and seconded workers in the labor market and falling inflation, this is highly unlikely to continue in 2024. Geert-Jan Waasdorp, director and founder of Intelligence Group, says: "Our forecasting model showed a rate drop of four to six percent based on all these factors, but we do not consider that realistic. The exceptional inflation situation over the past 2 years, has thrown the robust forecasting model off track. We consider a slight increase of 1 to 2 percent as the most likely scenario. "

Scarcity remains, despite slight growth in economy
Waasdorp notes that several developments point to a possible easing of labor market scarcity, but that has little effect on actual scarcity. "We have experienced nine months of economic contraction, but just in the fourth quarter of 2023 there was a small upturn (+0.3 percent). We have seen a decline in job openings for quarters, yet demand remains extremely high and the unemployment rate low. At the same time, bankruptcies and reorganizations are increasing. This is bringing more personnel into the labor market, although it is only a drop in the bucket. Both the increasing supply of talent and the degree of movement in the labor market is still very small in historical perspective and absolute terms."

In addition, a decrease in scarcity is not reflected in the sourcing pressure among freelancers. In fact, the frequency in which they are approached for an assignment shows an upward trend. On average, self-employed people are approached eighteen times a year. By comparison, employed people are approached about nine times a year on average. Marion van Happen, CEO of HeadFirst Group, emphasizes, "These figures show the continuing demand for flexible labor and the growing interest in self-employment within the labor market. It is undeniable that highly skilled professionals make an invaluable contribution to the Netherlands, with a social and economic value of approximately 4.4 billion euros per year. This also highlights the importance for self-employed professionals to present their profile and skills well, and for organizations to develop effective strategies to attract and retain permanent and flexible talent in a competitive labor market."

More insights into professionals' rate trends over 2023 and into 2024? Download the latest Talent Monitor for free at headfirst.group.