Staff shortages in the transport sector: are the self-employed the solution?

19 September 2019 - Nowadays, the lack of personnel may be the greatest challenge for the transport industry. The labour market remains very tight despite the fact that the number of vacancies for lorry drivers is decreasing slightly. From 2021, the supply of drivers in particular will hardly grow any more, while demand will continue to grow strongly. Reason enough for many transport companies to call in self-employed drivers, domestic or foreign.

Lack of drivers

With the increasing shortage of drivers, the number of self-employed drivers in road transport has now reached an all-time high of 5,600. That is a staggering 35% increase compared to five years ago, according to ING's Economics Department in its latest outlook for the transport and logistics sector.


There may be various risks if the deployment of the self-employed driver is not properly conducted. According to the Road Transport of Goods Act (Wwg), a transport company is prohibited from carrying out transport with drivers who are not employed by the company (the so-called 'requirement of employment'). It follows from this requirement of employment, therefore, that hauliers may not, in principle, use self-employed drivers. There is an exception to this requirement, but in that case, a number of conditions must be met. A licensed self-employed driver may carry out transport (as a charter) for a haulier, if:

  • the self-employed driver holds a (Euro) permit for haulage.
  • the self-employed driver has the carrier vehicle at their disposal with which the goods are transported. This may be a purchased, leased or rental vehicle and this must be in writing and can be demonstrated (proof of ownership, lease or rental agreement).
  • the (Euro) permit certificate on the carrier vehicle is in the name of the transport company of the self-employed driver.
  • the self-employed driver works at their own expense and risk. If there is any doubt about this, self-employed drivers and their clients can use a so-called model agreement.

The  Dutch National and International Road Transport Organisation (NIWO) is responsible for issuing the (Euro) permits and, in case of a permit application, it examines whether the self-employed driver carries out transport at their own expense and risk. NIWO therefore also checks whether this is disguised employment. The number of clients, the journeys and who makes the vehicles available and the manner in which the vehicles were made available will have to be taken into account (i.e. no loan agreement).

Model agreement

The Dutch Association for Transport and Logistics (TLN) has, in cooperation with the Tax and Customs Administration, developed a model agreement for professional hauliers. When the parties work according to this agreement, they have certainty as to whether or not there is a (fictitious) employment relationship.

Suspension of enforcement of the DBA Act

Until 1 January 2021, the Tax and Customs Administration's supervision will focus only on 'malicious' people. Furthermore, the Deregulation Assessment of Labour Relations Act (DBA), which aims to improve the enforcement and reduction of pseudo self-employment, will not be upheld. In addition, the Cabinet is striving for new legislation and regulations to replace the DBA Act with effect from 1 January 2021.

Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate

The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) carries out regular inspections, whether or not in cooperation with other inspectorates. For example, there is regular cooperation with the Tax and Customs Administration, which also assesses the relationship between the self-employed and their clients. In order to limit risks, we recommend you work with a model agreement at least until 1 January 2021 if you are working with a self-employed driver.

Want to know more?

Would you like to know more about working with self-employed drivers? If so, please contact Richard Ouwerling by e-mail or by phone +31 (0)88 627 22 98. He will be happy to answer any questions.

Want to know more?