In the Netherlands, ‘flexwerk’ refers to work carried out under a flexible employment contract. The hours and the place of work depend on the employer’s need and may vary from week to week and season to season.
More than a third of employees work on a flexible basis, a quarter of them under a temporary contract. Private employment agencies play an important role in matching employers with suitable jobseekers.
“During an economic crisis in the 1980s, flexible working became a chance for mainly young unemployed people to find work,” explains EURES National Adviser Mathilde Kockelkoren, based in Amsterdam. “At the same time, flexible work was less risky for employers. After the crisis was over, flexible working had become a normal type of contract. Nowadays it’s very usual to start a job on a temporary basis, providing both employee and employer with a longer period of time to prove their skills.”
The advantage of flexible work, she says, is that employers are more willing to take on new, temporary staff, because they can let them go without consequence if necessary. Young people often like the opportunity to work on a flexible basis and gain experience at different workplaces. “The number of people consciously choosing this type of employment is growing, and for Europeans it provides an opportunity to start on the Dutch labour market,” she explains.
Various types of jobs can be carried out on a flexible basis, from those with no specific education requirements to highly qualified positions. “Language requirements depend on the job,” Mathilde says. “For the IT and engineering sector, English will do. If you want to build a social life, though, some basic knowledge of the Dutch language is definitely an advantage.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about flexible working, the types of contract available and employee rights will find information in English on the werk.nl website and from EURES.
“EURES can provide a list of reliable private agencies, which can also be checked at the ABU and NBBU sites – these are the federations of private employment agencies,” says Mathilde. “With the ABU and NBBU we produced an animated video about flexwerk in the Netherlands.”
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