ACM: self-employed workers are allowed to make arrangements about rates in more situations
In certain situations, self-employed workers are allowed to make arrangements among each other about their rates. They may do so, for example, in order to earn the subsistence level. However, self-employed workers that work side-by-side with employees in their sector, too, are allowed to make arrangements about rates. Such and other situations are discussed in the final version of the ‘Guidelines on price arrangements between self-employed workers’, which the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) published today.
Over the summer, various market participants shared their opinions about the draft version of these guidelines. Following their reactions, certain parts of the Guidelines have been revised and clarified. The Guidelines also apply to, for example, self-employed workers that “create works through their own labor”, such as photographers and artists.
Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, comments: “Our economy has over a million self-employed workers. We want to make clear that self-employed workers who work side-by-side with employees may, for example, fall under collective-labor agreements. And, following the announcement of the Dutch cabinet to introduce a statutory minimum rate, self-employed workers are already allowed to make arrangements among each other in order to reach the subsistence level.”
There are two important situations in which self-employed workers are allowed to make arrangements about rates.
Self-employed workers who work “side-by-side” with employees are allowed to make arrangements about rates
Self-employed workers who work “side-by-side” with employees are not considered to be undertakings within the meaning of the Dutch Competition Act for those activities. If self-employed workers are indistinguishable from employees in the same sector in their day-to-day operations, they are allowed to make arrangements with each other about rates, whether or not in the context of collective-bargaining agreements. And this situation does not only apply to arrangements that aim to realize the subsistence level.
Self-employed workers are allowed to negotiate about rates in order to safeguard the subsistence level
The Dutch cabinet recently announced its intention to introduce a statutory minimum hourly rate of 16 euros for self-employed workers in 2021. In this way, the cabinet wishes to protect self-employed workers against poverty, and to prevent them from being hired at too low a rate, and to prevent clients from choosing to work with self-employed workers solely because of lower costs. That would lead to social dumping.
ACM will, in the period leading up to the introduction of this minimum rate, not impose any fines for arrangements between self-employed workers that solely aim to realize the announced minimum rate right now.
Update July 2020
In June 2020, the Dutch cabinet cancelled its previous plans for the introduction of a statutory minimum rate for self-employed workers. Following that reversal, ACM has revised its guidelines. In the revised version of the guidelines, ACM states that it will not impose any fines if arrangements about rates are made between and with self-employed workers that are aimed at safeguarding the subsistence level.