- Bread Funds, a grass root initiative of social protection by self-employed workers in the Netherlands
- ILERA Conference 2015
- Book/source title
- 17th ILERA World Congress: "The Changing World of Work: Implications for Labour and Employment Relations and Social Protection". Download Congress Papers
- Number of pages
- Cape Town: International Labour and Employment Relations Association
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Hugo Sinzheimer Instituut (HSI)
In 2002 the ILO qualified the fact that in developing countries a large part of labour is performed in the informal economy a ‘major obstacle’ for the organisation of social security. It is after all extremely difficult, if not impossible to organise social security for workers who are by nature of their labour invisible. As of now, no suitable solution has been formulated for this problem. Perhaps there ís no tailor made solution. The topic is especially problematic, since, as Olivier put it, the assumption that familial and community support will fill the void left by inadequate state protection no longer holds true (Olivier, 2014).
In this paper I will describe a grass root alternative for state organised social security, which was developed in the Netherlands. Of course, the Netherlands do not deserve the epithet ‘developing’, but the reality of socially unprotected work has become relevant in this country as well, as it has in several other developed welfare states. This is caused by the influx on the labour market of workers who perform labour under conditions comparable to those of employees, but unprotected by labour law regulation and employment benefit schemes. Such workers are also referred to as ‘new’ or occasionally ‘would be’ self-employed (hereinafter NSE). Much has been said about the complications of this type of labour, it’s bright as well as its dark side (Supiot, 1999, Schulze Busschoff & Schmidt 2009, Westerveld 2012). This is understandable because the qualification NSE fits both workers who are truly independent and job seekers who have no choice but to perform labour as ‘quasi-employee’. The latter are stuck in the middle: they do not have the social protection of employees, but do not benefit from the trade-off of self-employment either, where the absence of social protection is compensated by the possibility to make profits (Deakin 2004). But, quasi or for real, for all self-employed workers applies that, if they want to have income protection in times of ‘entrepreneurial hardship’ they must buy or organise it themselves.
The paper is structured as follows. I will begin with a clarification of the target group of this paper, the complexities the effort of classification brings about and the suggestions that have been made to tackle them. Thereafter I give a description of (the history and the state of art of) social employment insurances in the Netherlands. This information is necessary to place the topic within perspective. The next section is dedicated to the initiative of self-employed workers to organise their own social security, its characteristics and its strengths and weaknesses. At the end I will draw some conclusions about the relevance of this phenomenon for social security, either in countries where the majority of workers is protected through employment benefit schemes, leaving self-employed dependant workers hang out to dry, or for countries where the majority of workers is uninsured for more fundamental reasons.
- Workshop Limitations of Social Security coverage
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