Note: When “Good” Employment Law Isn’t So Good…

1 Feb 2024

Don’t get me wrong. I love that the Netherlands government puts protections in place to make sure workers aren’t exploited, but sometimes, the protections put people like me (dynamically disabled) at a disadvantage.

In New Zealand, freelancing/self-employment is fairly easy to get into. You do not have to register your business with the Chamber of Commerce unless you intend to apply for support payments or grants. You only have to let the Inland Revenue Department know, so they can expect taxes on your personal income tax return. Additionally, if you earn under $60,000NZD a year, you do not need to register for and charge GST (VAT) on your products/services. They do not care how many clients you have, as long as you’re paying your taxes.

In the Netherlands, it’s a different story. You MUST register with the Chamber of Commerce to get a separate tax number to charge VAT (GST) on all of your products/services. This alone would be okay if it wasn’t also accompanied by the requirement of 3 or more different clients a year. You can’t do multiple jobs for the same client without also having at least 2 other clients. I understand why, but for me, I often won’t be ABLE to work for more than one or two clients within a year.

So, most of my employment in the Netherlands has been based on zero-hour temporary contracts offered to me by my husband’s company/their sister company. I love these contracts because I can usually manage temporary assignments, especially when I can choose my own hours, and my husband’s company are happy to provide me with work despite my disabilities. But guess what the fuckin’ Dutch government have decided to do to “protect” workers from employers misusing zero-hour/temp contracts?

They’re going to get rid of zero-hour contracts altogether, and they have changed the time between temp contracts with the same company from six months to FIVE WHOLE ASS YEARS. This means a somewhat reliable source of small amounts of work I can manage every now and then has been cut off for me. The government literally does not want to make it easy for me to work, but also will not support me financially because I’m an immigrant with a “rich” husband.

It seems to me that employees should be allowed to choose whether they’re happy to work on a zero-hour and/or temporary contract. Because I am. I know that it’s because I’m lucky to not be exploited by the companies I’ve worked for, but because the rules for self-employed freelancing don’t allow me to be able to work for these companies, zero-hour temp contracts were all I had. It’s so frustrating because I just want to be able to work to my capacity.


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