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Netherlands – Temporary employment is growing but agency workers declined

30 May 2012

The Dutch labour market is one of the most flexible in Europe and the latest figures by the National Statistics Office show (CBS) that almost one in five employees worked on a temporary contract in 2011.

But according to the statistics, the amount of temporary agency workers as a proportion of the total workforce has actually declined from 3% in 2001 to 2.7% in 2011.  Agency workers comprise just one part of the entire flexible labour force in the country, which also includes those working on fixed-term contracts.

The data shows that flexible employment in the Netherlands has been on the increase in the ten-year period from 2001 to 2011 where the proportion of flexible workers grew from 13% to 18%. It is still mainly young workers who are engaged as temporary workers, and their presence as a proportion of all temporary workers has been growing from 35% in 2001 to 52% in 2011. The reason why most young workers embark on a temporary job is the prospect of finding a permanent job, the CBS said.

The statistics also indicate that between 2004 and 2007 the economy was in good shape and the amount of temporary work grew strongly. But from 2009 onwards when the recession hit, temporary workers declined, this marking the cyclical nature of temporary employment.  

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