WIBA IT has been following developments regarding the DBA Act for some time now. For example, we attended several Bovib knowledge sessions and we also visited the Binnenhof to discuss this very special legislation. Last Friday we received news that the enforcement of this law will be suspended until at least January 1, 2020. What does this suspension mean for all freelancers of WIBA IT and in the Netherlands?
The postponement of the monitoring of the DBA Act has been extended to January 1, 2020, according to Minister Koolmees (Social Affairs and Employment) and Secretary Snel (Finance) in a letter to the Dutch Parliament. The initial postponement was until July 1, 2018. So the government will have another 18 months to make sure everything runs smoothly.
WIBA IT has had a lot of questions about the new law and its implementation. This legislation was particularly unclear. As far as the freelancers were concerned, the approved model agreements were a step in the right direction. They (agreements) had to be able to demonstrate that there was a separate business. In addition, it was also important for the professional to occupy a completely independent position at the client’s, which no employee within the organization could do. That meant that the freelancer had to have truly unique knowledge.
In the IT sector, that is relatively easy to demonstrate. Some jobs require pretty unique knowledge, like Delphi and Hadoop, which often involved complex environments being built or adapted. And although there are other specialists who also have the required knowledge, it is not to the same extent as an independent professional.
Things are different for independent postmen working for a package delivery service, whose activities overlap with those of people who are on the organization’s payroll. The work is the same which means there is a situation that is in violation of the new legislation, in that freelancers are only brought in to fill the gaps.
As such, the higher segment has little to fear from the new law. All the conditions are easy to delineate and this latest postponement will have no consequences for this group. As far as the situation until 2020 is concerned, the Minister said: “For the market, the message has to be clear: you can work with independent contractors! Unless you do it for the wrong reasons.” Also, to the technical implementation, Secretary Snel indicated as a reason not to accelerate the opt-out at the top end: “It is not my impression that the main problems are there. That group in the higher segment and has little to fear as it is, so we see no reason to accelerate things separately there.”
In the case of bad intentions, the IRS will enforce the new law. And more strictly than before. “As per July 1, enforcement is no longer limited to the most serious cases, but will also include the other companies with bad intent, in response to growing unrest regarding false self-employment, especially in the lower segment of the labour market.” The government also refers to a motion from the Dutch Parliament to counter constructions like the one used by Deliveroo.
Deliveroo is deliberately exploring the boundaries of the law, incidentally, to have a clearer idea of what is and isn’t allowed. It has been suggested, for instance, that the company doesn’t want to ensure its freelancers, because that might be interpreted as employment.
The Minister has indicated that consultation with the field will go on. And before the Summer of 2018, the government will submit a framework proposal to the Dutch Parliament, in which it will be made clear, among other things, how the concept of ‘authority’ is to be interpreted, which is a major obstacle in the current version of the law.
“The government wants the new legislation and regulation to match when it enters in practice. That is why parties from the field, like freelance organizations, and employee and employer organizations are included in the implementation.”
Because monitoring of the new law starts 18 months later than initially expected, there is a lot that remains unclear and uncertain for many independent professionals. WIBA IT keeps a close watch on any changes in this area and we hope there will be more clarity soon. Do you want to stay informed on further developments? Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.