Occupational social security schemes (Chapter 2 of Directive 2006/54)

AuthorVegter, Marlies
6 Occupational social security schemes (Chapter 2 of Directiv e 2006/54)
6.1 General (legal) context
6.1.1 Surveys and reports on the practical difficulties linked to occupational and/or
statutory social security issues
Over the last five years, there have been no surveys and/or reports about gender issues
in social security. There are debates on the fact that self-empl oyed, including false self-
employed, persons are not covered by social security, bu t th is c oncerns both m en an d
women. A gende r perspecti ve may arise in respect of domestic wo rkers wh o work four
days or less per week in private households. These workers are, by law, exempted from
the social security system. They are predominantly female. This reduced protection has
been criticised by, inter alia, the European Commission and the Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but so far, the Dutch Government
has not taken any concrete steps to improve the situati on.139
6.1.2 Other issues related to gender equality and soci al security
There is much debate on the position of self-emp loyed people with no employees. This is
a group that has grown substantially over th e years. Employers like to engage them,
because they a re cheaper than employees and are not entitled to protection against
dismissal or against sickness etc. The workers themselves have a favourable fiscal
position, which means they receive on a net basis more than employees who do
comparable work. Some of t hem work i n small jobs and/or have irregular work, so their
income is quite low. The increase in the numbers of these workers who do not pay social
security cont ributions is eroding the social system an d ther e is concern that some of
them are insufficiently protected against disability and old age risks. Therefo re, a
commission to study the situation and possible solutions has now been set up.
One of the solutions discussed is that self-employed persons should be obliged to take out
insurance against illness/invalidity. Reductions in their fiscal benefits are also under
These di scussions ar e n ot cond ucted from a gender equality perspective, but of course
they will affect women as well, since approximately 40 % of self-employed persons with
no employees are women. The income of self-employed women is considerably lower than
that of men. In 2015, 55 % of self-employed women earned less than EUR 25 000 per
year compared to 18 % of the men. The reason s for this are mainly that self-empl oyed
women work more often in sectors in which benefits are lower, especially health care and
other f orms of ca re, an d t hat wom en work fewer hours. If the income position of self-
employed persons becomes more difficult because of an obligation to take out insurance
and because of a decrease of their fiscal benefits this will definitely have an impact on
these women. It is far from certain th at they will be able to negotiate higher fees to
compensate fo r these decreases in income. However, it is possible, and this is also the
political aim, that more self-employed persons will be employed on the basis of an
employment agreement.
Factual information abou t the number o f self-employed persons and their income can be
found on the website of the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS). 140
139 See about this group: Cremers, E. and Bijleveld, L. W. (2010), Een baan als alle andere?! De rechtspositie
van deeltijd huishoudelijk personeel (A job like all others?! The legal position of part-time household
workers.), Leiden, and the addendum by Bijleveld, L.W., Leiden, 2015.
140 CBS, ‘Wie zijn de zzp’ers?’ (Who are the self-employed with no employees?). Available at:
https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/faq/zzp/wie-zijn-de-zzp-ers-. More information available at

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