Interim professionals: Freelancing through an agency in the Netherlands?

15 January 2013, by

Employers are choosing more and more to work with freelancers instead of contracting employees.

According to Central Bureau for Statistics, in the first quarter of 2012, more than 570.000 persons offered their services as ZZP’er (Dutch for freelancer). Nearly half of them were highly qualified and the most common profession was business advisor.

Both ways of hiring employees have pro’s and con’s. For the professional who is looking for a job, both ways of working also offer different perspectives.

What’s the best choice at this moment? Working as a freelancer or waiting for a contract opportunity?

Interim professionals
Many recruitment agencies, including ours, work with freelancers, the so-called interim professionals. The more I learn about this way of working, the more I realise that if you choose to be a freelancer only because it’s a convenient solution for getting a job, it will probably not work for long.

A freelancer, an interim professional, is an independent entrepreneur, with emphasis on being an entrepreneur. That means that:
you have to be able to do acquisition
you like to work alone, or
if you work within a company that you accept the feeling of not being a real member of the team, and
you can handle the insecurity of having no work or income

If these skills or mentality do not suit you, then you might not survive as interim professional. But if they do, then I would advice you to go for it!

The number of interim professionals in the Netherlands continues to grow. Companies choose to work with them for obvious reasons; they hire a professional who is likely to be a self-starter with the necessary skills and probably a critical eye, which can be very useful and refreshing, and they have no binding contracts once the work is finished.

freelancers netherlands statistics
Professions in which freelancers offered their services (Q1, 2012)
Source: Central Bureau for Statistics

Of course there are many more professions in which you can work as a freelancer such as HR, Financial, Secretarial, Marketing and Communications professionals.

interim professionals netherlands

How does working as a freelancer through an agency work?
Working as a freelancer through an agency doesn’t mean that you have different obligations than if you would take care of your own assignments. What you always need to have / do:

You must obtain a residence permit which is based on self employment, also as an EU national. This application process can take a while (Aliens Police).

You will have to register your new business with the local Chamber of Commerce. You may register a sole proprietorship (or another form of legal entity), or register as service provider.

You must register your business with the Dutch Tax Department, in order to receive a VAT number (BTW). You must get a Dutch Social Society number, or Burgerservicenummer (BSN), at the Dutch Tax Department. A BSN is needed for all kinds of official documents, such as tax returns and registrations.

You must always have a valid ID.

Please note that you must be able to deliver all these documents to the agency in order to work for them as a freelancer!

Benefits of working as a freelancer through an agency
It can be very beneficial for a freelancer to work with an agency for the following reasons:

First of all, you will have access to the network of the agency, which will probably be many times larger than your own.

You are never working completely alone, because there will always be someone to advise you about labour market issues, developments or legal advice.

You can share experiences and questions with other freelancers, and can help each other.

Last but not least, one very important benefit: a good agency will pay you in time, and you do not have to wait more than two weeks for your salary.

Els Brouwer is an Expat Service Provider, who works as Manager Interim Professional for an agency specialising in Recruitment & Career Coaching. She works with expats and international companies for more than ten years now. For more information, please comment below or visit Projob.

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Comments arranged by date (Total 1 comments)  
January 15 2013, 12:27PM

Hi there,

Besides the documents you'll need as stated above it is also a (common) request by a lot of companies you will provide them a so-called VAR-WUO (declaration of employment sphere - profit of business). This is a document that can be requested at the Tax Authority and says you get your income as a result of your business. This has the (important) consequence for the company you are hired by it is safe on the matter of social security premiums on your behalf. In the VAR-WUO is stated that these premiums are your responsibility instead of the companies.

Also, if you want to start your own business, keep in mind you'll have to save money for the times you have no assignment. You have to put money aside for your pension, if you're sick etc.
Self-employed people don't have the same (easy) acces to the social security system.
On the other hand if you have the experience, the network and the urge to be your own boss: go for it (but get a good advice)

About the Author
Els Brouwer

Els has been working for more than twenty years in the recruitment sector and now at Projob, an agen...



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