Flex workers losing out on permanent jobs

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Minister Lodewijk Asscher wants to make it more difficult to endlessly extend flex contracts from January 1st.

On January 1st the Law work and security will be introduced.

From January fixed and flexible contracts will grow slightly towards each other. The severance payment of permanent staff decreases, and flexible forces also have right to the so called transition fee. Temps will also be entitled to a permanent contract after three contracts in two years, instead of three contracts in three years. To counteract revolving structures, a temp may only return after 6 months, currently it is after three months.

Companies seem to use flex workers (temps) mainly to save costs. The limitation of the flex options in the new law will therefore have little attraction to them. This is evident from research on the role of employers in flexible employment.

Companies will likely seek other solutions to keep using flex workers. Scientists Fabian Dekker and Paul de Beer compared four companies operating in the media and transportation sectors. In those sectors many employees are working on a flex contract or as freelancers.

"The growth of flexible contracts is not a natural phenomenon caused by globalization or fickle consumer behavior, but appears to be a conscious choice", says Dekker of the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Economic conditions are often used as a reason to choose flexibility. 10 percent of temps are used to catch up "peak and sick", another 60 percent to shift the burden. The study calls the most flexible media company "particularly profitable" in the last two years despite the economic crisis. In addition to international expansion, this is attributed to "efficient personnel". Another common reason for choosing flex is the two year sick pay for permanent staff.

"The study confirms our observations that there are some employers who opt for the cheapest solution", says Maurice Limmen, chairman of the trade union federation CNV. "It remains a cat and mouse game to counter new evasion constructions. Therefore an active government and sound legislation is necessary."

According to Minister Asscher, it is still difficult to say what impact the law will have in the future. "But it is difficult to leave people in uncertainty through endless use of temporary contracts. Employers are forced to organize flexibility in a different way", he said. "There are numerous examples of employers who organize internal flexibility with their permanent employees."

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