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Self-employed workers are able to negotiate collectively without violating the competition rules

Self-employed workers (independent contractors) are able to negotiate collectively for pay and other terms of employment without violating the competition rules. Following amendments to European rules, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has revised its Guidelines on price arrangements between self-employed workers. In these guidelines, it is explained, among other things, that self-employed workers are allowed to negotiate collectively if: 1. they are economically dependent on their clients, or 2. they work side-by-side with salaried employees or 3. they work through digital labor platforms (for example, meal delivery or taxi services).

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: “The bargaining positions of certain groups of self-employed workers, particularly at the lower end of the labor market, are weak when negotiating pay and terms of employment. Now that it is possible to negotiate collectively, trade associations for self-employed workers and unions are able to help improve the position of self-employed workers at the lower end of the labor market.”

What is this about?

The number of self-employed workers has grown tremendously over the past few years. On the one hand, that is good for a dynamic economy. On the other hand, however, there are also negative consequences. At the lower end of the labor market in particular, the bargaining position of self-employed workers is often weak. That results in reduced pay and unfavorable terms of employment. These self-employed workers often also have substandard accident insurance and unemployment insurance. In some cases, employers hire self-employed workers who, in practice, do the same work as salaried employees do, thereby circumventing employee protection laws. The guidelines offer self-employed workers insight into the options for collective negotiations for pay and terms of employment. In that way, ACM seeks to keep the positive effects of a dynamic economy, while curbing the negative effects.

The guidelines in a nutshell

These guidelines are meant for all self-employed workers that offer their own services or create works through their own labor. Think of independent cleaners, delivery workers (including meal delivery), translators/interpreters, parcel deliverers, photographers, or composers. ACM has made an abridged version of the Guidelines on price arrangements between self-employed workers, giving self-employed workers a quick overview of their options for collective negotiations.

See also