Self-employed workers (Directive 2010/41/EU and some relevant provisions of the Recast Directive)

AuthorMarlies Vegter
8 Self-employed workers (Directive 2010/41/EU and some relevant
provisions of the Recast Directive)
8.1 General (legal) context
8.1.1 Surveys and reports on the specific difficulties of self-empl oyed workers
There have been surveys and reports on the difficulties self-empl oyed workers face, but
also reports which make it clear that most self-employed people are in fact quite satisfied
with their situation.
Much information can be found on the website of the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS).177
In a report of March 2019 the CBS mentioned that self-employed with no employees (in
the Netherlands referred to as zzp’er) have the highest risk of poverty, compared to self -
employed persons with employees and employees. In 2017, 8.6 % of the zzp ’ers ran the
risk of poverty compared to 1.9 % of employees.178
Approximately 60 % of self-employed persons cease trading as a company within five
years, the CBS reported in 2018. 46 % of the men were still working as a zzp’er after five
years and 38 % of the women.179 Of those who stop working as zzp’ers most return to a
job working as an employee. Financial insecurity appears to b e an important reason for
this. In a review carried out by an organisation for self-employed in 2019, 43 % o f the
zzp’ers reported that they worry about their lack of pension; 35.7 % mentioned that they
were anxious whether they would get new assignments; and 24 % worried about falling
ill.180 In the Netherlands there ar e no regulations for protection of self-employed people
against the risks of sic kness, invalidity and unemploymen t, so the self-employed have to
take out insurance themselves or remain uninsured. They are entitled to the gen eral old-
age pension, but this is relatively low (70 % of the minimum wage for singles and 50 %
of the minimum wage for people who live together). Self-employed people are not entitled
to an occupational pension, unless they arrange for a pension themselves.
There is an arrangement for pregnancy leave for self-employed women, thanks to the
CEDAW Convention and EU legislation, but there is no regulation for the situation in which
a self-employed woman falls ill due to pregnancy-related reasons, either before or after
pregnancy leave.
Self-employed women also report that they experience difficulties in reconciling work an d
family, especially if they have to work irregular h ours (e.g. in health care). 181 On the
positive side, it is mentioned that their work in a self-employed capacity gives them more
freedom to work at the hours they choose. The trap is that too little time remains for
themselves, e.g. because they t end to work in the evenings in order to c ompensate for
the time that was spent on care tasks during the day .182
177 This CBS website refers to various reports on self-employed people:
178 CBS (2019), ‘Van werkenden loopt zzp’er meeste risico op armoede’ (From the working population the self-
employed with no employees are the most at risk of poverty), 5 March 2019. Available at:
179 CBS (2018), ‘4 op de 10 zzp’ers vijf jaar na start nog zzp’er’ (4 out of 10 self-employed with no employees
five years after their start still self-employed), 27 November 2018. Available at:
180 ZZP Barometer (2019), Merendeel zzp’ers onzeker over financiën (majority of self-employed with no
employees uncertain about finances), 21 May 2019. Available at:
181 See also: Annink, A. and den Dunk, L. (2014), ‘De positie van vrouwelijke zzp’ers in Nederland’ (‘The
position of female self-employed with no employees in the Netherlands’), Atria, 2014, pp. 22-23.
182 Annink, A. and den Dunk, L. (2014), ‘De positie van vrouwelijke zzp’ers in Nederland’, Atria, 2014, § 4.5.

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