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Netherlands – ABU responds to new government proposal

10 December 2013

The Dutch Federation of Employment Agencies (ABU) has announced that it is ‘positively critical’ of the Work and Security Act that was sent last week by Dutch Social Affairs Minister Lodewijk Asscher to the Lower House of Parliament. ABU recognises the initiatives in the law that would be positive for the labour market, but is doubtful that, for certain measures, they will be able to achieve the desired effect.

With the new legislative proposal the government wants to create a balance between flexibility and security in the labour market, so as to improve the position of workers in the Netherlands. The government wants to achieve this by making the redundancy process faster, as well as cheaper and fairer, by strengthening the legal status of flexible workers, and implementing an unemployment system that will get people back to work more quickly.

Jurriën Koops, Director of Social Affairs for ABU, commented: “It is good that a re-evaluation of the labour relations is taking place with this proposal. Society in changing, the economy is changing, and the labour market needs to adjust to that. It is wise to check what arrangements the labour market needs for the future.”

Among the positive aspects of the proposal is the emphasis on well organised flexible work arrangements. The limitations on the number of successive temporary contract and the prohibition of the use of zero-hour contracts in the care sector are favourable developments, as far as Mr Koops is concerned. This includes limiting the employment clause in which an employer using flexible workers may terminate a contract with immediate effect.

Mr Koops is unconvinced that the law will provide more permanent jobs and narrow the gap between permanent and flexible workers. “Only the economy can create more permanent jobs. Something this law does not provide for. A law does not create jobs.”

Mr Koops also finds it incomprehensible that an employer must pay a ‘transition fee’ to employees that are made redundant. “How can you impose that on an industry? The transition fee becomes a transition tax.”

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