ABN AMRO: the rise of the zzp’er continues despite DBA

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The report “Rise of self-employed workers continues despite new regulations” by ABN AMRO Economic Bureau’s Business Services sector shows that the number of permanent jobs is declining and the flex envelope is growing. The self-employed, in particular, seem to be on an unstoppable rise.

More flex contracts

Currently, 62% of employees have permanent employment. The number of permanent employees fell sharply in recent years, from 5.66 million in the first quarter of 2003 to 5.15 million in the first quarter of 2016. A decrease of 510,000.

The labor force increased by 516,000 between the first quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2015. As the number of permanent employees declined, it means that flex contracts have come into vogue. After the number of on-call workers, the number of self-employed workers increased the most.


One reason for the rise of the self-employed is that they are relatively often active in increasingly important growth sectors such as business services and ict. Also, because of the digital opportunities, the barrier to becoming self-employed is low. In addition, the government (still) offers self-employed people tax benefits (self-employment deduction and SME profit exemption), making it more attractive to be self-employed. In addition to these structural changes, the rising economy is also contributing to the growth in the number of self-employed workers.

Uncertainty Act DBA

The uncertainty caused by the new Deregulation of Assessment of Employment Relations Act (Wet DBA) may inhibit the development of the number of self-employed workers in the Netherlands in the short term. This is because there is a lack of clarity about how the Inland Revenue will enforce and how model agreements should be drawn up. There are signs that employers no longer want to hire self-employed workers as a result and only hire them through employment agencies.

However, ABN AMRO expects that despite this lack of clarity, the advance of self-employed workers will continue in the longer term and that the number of self-employed workers will also grow in the next two years.

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