Flex workers in higher demand

12/09/2006 14:00

In 2005, over half a million employees in the Netherlands had flexible work arrangements ,an increase by more than 40 thousand compared to 2004. Save stand-by and substitute workers, temps also contributed significantly to the increase. Flex workers are relatively often young and many are still attending school.

One in twelve employees are flex workers

In 2005, over 6 million people were working 12 hours a week or more. One in twelve, i.e. 513 thousand persons, had a flexible contract. The number of flex workers increased by 9 percent, relative to 2004. The amount of employees working on a permanent contract remained virtually the same. 

Growth after years of decline

In 1998, the number of people working on a flexible contract peaked at 600 thousand, the highest amount in the past decade. Subsequently, a period of uninterrupted decline set in and the number of flex workers fell to just under 460 thousand in 2003. In the next year, their number began to rise again. When the economic situation improves, employers often turn to flex workers; sustained economic improvement often induces employers to recruit more permanent staff.

Workers on flexible contracts

Flex workers more often young and still attending school

The average flex worker’s age is 31 years, whereas workers on permanent contracts were on average nine years older. The age distribution among stand-by and substitute workers is uneven. Half of them were under 25 and still attending school or university. This did not apply to temps.

Pupils/students by employment contract

49 percent of flex workers are women

The rate of female flex workers was 49 percent; the rate of women among permanent contract workers was 44 percent. Among stand-by and substitute workers, 65 percent were women, mainly employed in the sector hotels and restaurants and in health care and welfare. Temp workers were mostly men working in manufacturing industry, transport and business services.

Workers by employment contract and gender, 2005

Shorter working weeks

The average flex worker works 28 hours a week, 5 hours less than the average permanent-contract worker. Temps have approximately the same working hours as permanent-contract workers. On average, stand-by and substitute workers have much shorter working weeks of about 20 hours.

Harry Bierings and Clemens Siermann