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

AuthorVegter, Marlies
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 -employed workers
There have been surveys and reports on the difficulties s elf-employed worker s 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).164
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 empl oyees and employees. In 2017, 8.6 % of the zzp’ers ran the
risk of poverty compared to 1.9 % of employees.165
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.166 Of those who st op working as z zp’ers most return t o a
job working as an employee. Financial insecurity app ears to be an important reason for
this. In a review carri ed out by an organi sation for self-employed in 2019, 43 % of the
zzp’ers reported that they worry about their lack of pension; 35.7 % mentioned that th ey
were anxious whether they would get new assignments ; and 24 % worried about fallin g
ill.167 In the Netherlands there are no regulations for protection of self -employed peopl e
against the risks of si ckness, invalidity and unempl oyment, so the self-empl oyed have to
take out insurance themselves or remai n uninsured. They are entitled to the g eneral old-
age pension, but this is relatively low (70 % of the minimum wage for singles an d 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 reconcili ng work and
family, especially if they have to work irregular hours (e.g. in health care).168 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 tend to work in the evenings in order to compensate for
the time that was spent on care tasks during the day .169
164 This CBS website refers to various reports on self-employed people:
165 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:
166 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:
167 ZZP Barometer (2019), Merendeel zzp’ers onzeker over financiën (majority of self-employed with no
employees uncertain about finances), 21 May 2019. Available at:
168 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.
169 Annink, A. and den Dunk, L. (2014), ‘De positie van vrouwelijke zzp’ers in Nederland’, Atria, 2014, § 4.5.

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