One fifth of employees in the Netherlands are flex workers07 June 2012, by Carly Blair
The number of employees with flexible contracts in the Netherlands is growing continually, according to Statistics Netherlands. Between 2001 and 2011, the proportion of flex workers grew from 13 to 18 percent. The number of flex workers is highly sensitive to the current economic situation, and the majority of flex workers are young.
When the economy is performing poorly, employees with flexible contracts are the first ones to lose their jobs. During the period from 2004-2007, the economy grew and the number of flex jobs grew more dramatically. The economy shrank in 2009 and the number of flex workers decreased in turn. However, the number of flex jobs declined less rapidly than in previous years.
The share of flex workers grew almost 50 percent over the past decade. There were more than 6,3 million employees in the Netherlands working at least twelve hours a week last year, of whom 18 percent had flexible employment contracts. In 2001, the share of flex workers was 13 percent.
The increase in flex workers is primarily due to an increase in the share of employees with a temporary employment contract and the prospect of a permanent employment contract with fixed working hours, i.e. nowadays companies are more likely to offer new hires a temporary contract to start.
The share of standby or replacement workers grew by over 50 percent over the past decade, from about 2 to 3 percent, but the share of strictly temporary workers has remained fairly stable at around 3 percent in the meantime.
The majority of flex workers are aged 15-25; this percentage grew substantially over the past decade, from 35 percent in 2001 to 52 percent in 2011. Currently over 70 percent of flex workers are aged 35 or younger.