Freelancing in the Netherlands… What to expect?

Becoming a freelancer is very popular in the Netherlands. The number of self-employed people continues to grow. At this moment there are around 1 million self-employees in the Netherlands, making it one of the largest growers of this sector in Europe. But why is this? And how is it to be a freelancer in the Netherlands?

What is a self-employed professional?
Freelancers in the Netherlands are known as ‘‘ZZP’ers”. A self-employed professional or freelancer is an entrepreneur without any staff who works for different customers. The number of self-employed workers in relation to the total labour force is about 17% in the Netherlands. Especially the older people, who are highly educated, want to become a self-employed professional.

Active in which sector?
Relatively many self-employed workers in the Netherlands work in real estate, wholesale and retail trade, agriculture and the building and construction sector. At this moment more and more young people are starting as a self-employed professional and working from all over the world as a ‘digital nomad’.

Dutch economy
Economic performance in The Netherlands is vibrant, and growth is expected to remain robust, underpinned by sound public finances, healthy job creation and high levels of confidence, according to the OECD. Suzanne van Duijn content/PR expert and Digital Nomad:  “The Dutch economy is good and is suitable for freelancers”. A lot of freelancers also have an additional income. Over 55% of the 1.5 million people in the Netherlands officially classed as self-employed have another source of income, such as a job, social security benefits or a pension, according to research by national statistics office CBS. At the same time, 60% of the self-employed earn most of their income from their freelance work.

Where do they work?
As a freelancer, you have a lot of freedom. You can choose your own work schedule and working environment. Most freelancers work from home or a location such as a coworking space, café or at the customer. Suzanne: ‘‘I like freelancing in the Netherlands because of the good internet, and there are a lot of cool coworking spaces and cafes”. I think freelancers in the Netherlands have little to complain about.

Taxes
Freelancers and entrepreneurs have to pay turnover tax and income tax. If you work as a freelancer and are considered to be self-employed, your client does not have to deduct wage tax from your freelance payments.

Not just benefits
There are not only benefits when you are working as a freelancer. During illness or when the business is slow, you cannot fall back on benefits. Suzanne loves to work as a freelancer in the Netherlands, but sometimes she feels like she is treated like a stranger in our midst. As an employer, you don’t have to worry about getting paid, as a freelancer, on the other hand, you have to make sure your customer pays the bill. Other challenges are getting a mortgage or a loan.

Discussion
The position of self-employed workers without employees has been present in the debate about work and employment for some decades. Freelancers have no legal status in the Netherlands. Politicians are busy giving the freelancer a legal position in the labour market.

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