Coordinated inspection system, the Netherlands

About

Country: 
Netherlands
Sectors: 
Agriculture and fishing
Target Groups: 
employers/purchasers

Undeclared work is an ongoing problem and a strongly debated issue in the Netherlands. In July 2012 an agricultural employer was sentenced to three years in jail for exploiting foreign workers. This case came to the light through the recent intensified inspections by the interventions teams from the SZW Inspectorate (formerly the Labour Inspectorate), which has become more focused in its checks. The teams concentrate their inspection work on sectors having a dubious reputation: agriculture, construction and cleaning.

Background

In July 2012, an agricultural employer was sentenced to three years in jail for exploiting foreign workers. The conviction was also for human trafficking. In June 2012, two mushroom farms were discovered, where 40 Bulgarians were at work. Further investigation will have to show whether the work was undeclared. These cases came to the light through the intensified checks of the interventions teams. Agriculture, in particular the production of mushrooms, is a focal point of control by the teams. Between 2007 and 2009, 25% of the mushroom companies have been shown to have broken labour rules.

Intervention teams were introduced in 2003, and are presently becoming more and more effective. Apart from uncovering undeclared work, the teams cooperate with relevant institutions so fines and even jail sentences can be imposed.

Undeclared work is an ongoing problem and a strongly debated issue in the Netherlands (see Lessons out of recent Labour migration 2012; Labour migration on track 2011). The Inspectorate SZW has estimated that fraud (illegal labour, and paying under the minimum wage) takes place at 16%to 18% of the checked companies. In 2011 it affected 2,030 illegal workers. It has been concluded that illegal labour remains stable in recent years (Jaarverslag 2011, Inspectorate SZW). The SZW Inspectorate (formerly the Labour Inspectorate), has become more focussed in its inspections. The teams concentrate their inspection work on the sectors with a dubious reputation: agriculture, construction and cleaning.

The inspectorate also cooperates with all relevant institutions (local governments, Tax Office, Social Security Office, Office for the Administration of Employee Insurance Benefits, the police, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Prosecutor).

The specific case came to light through the intensified checks of the interventions teams. The employees of Polish, Romanian and Portuguese origin worked 14 hours, seven days a week, and were paid below the minimum wage. In some cases the female employer paid nothing at all.

Objectives

Tackling undeclared work, ruling out unfair competition rule and stopping human trafficking.

Specific measures

Coordinated and specific intervention of all the actors involved – from discovery up to fines and even convictions.

Actors involved

Inspectorate SZW, local governments, Tax Office, Social Security Office, Office for the Administration of Employee Insurance Benefits, the police, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Prosecutor

Outcome of evaluations: lessons and conclusions

The coordinated approach seems to be successful, in particular when local actors are involved and the branch itself wants to exclude the fraudulent employers.

Achievement of objectives

Unknown.

Obstacles and problems

Unknown, the problems will not differ from any policy tackling undeclared work.

Lessons learned

A coordinated approach seems to be successful, in particular when local actors, including the branch itself, are involved.

Impact indicators

The number of workers involved can be estimated as at least 2,030 in 2011; the 'entrepreneurs' involved can be estimated at 16% to 18% of companies.

The costs initially, in 2004, were a doubling of the budget of the intervention teams to €20 million. In this budget an additional 65 inspectors were included. The local governments have received additional funds to participate in the intervention teams (275 additional jobs). In 2012, 12 extra inspectors will be added for this AMU-approach.

Transferability

There is a potential for application of this measure in a coordinated approach in other Member States, provided the institutions concerned exist and are willing to cooperate.

Contacts

Bibliography

Ministry of Social Affairs (2012), Policy Malafide temp agencies, O/AMU/2012/3697, (Policy letter of Minister of Social Affairs, Henk Kamp, addressed to the Lower House).

Marianne Grunell, University of Amsterdam, AIAS/HSI

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