Fair Jobs the fairest employment agency in the Netherlands?

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Fair Jobs is an action research project on how the staffing industry works when it terms of mediating migrant workers. The project tests whether it is possible to do this fairly by putting the interests of temporary workers first.

To this end, Klaas Burger and Francien Winsemius will set up and operate their own cooperative employment agency. All steps are recorded and published in words and images, providing insight into dilemmas and successes. The temporary workers are directly involved in the objectives of the temporary employment agency. We are inspired by Dutch initiatives such as Tony Chocolony and Fairphone.


In doing so, we follow the improvement plan for the temporary employment industry as drawn up by FairWork. The main points:

  • Before departure, the temporary employment agency provides employment contracts in a language that the migrant understands with good descriptions of contract duration, type of contract, notice period, position, hours and salary, among other things. In addition, the employment agency provides clear and verifiable pay stubs;
  • The migrant worker is informed about his rights (employment rights, lease contract, health insurance, etc., etc.) in a language the migrant understands;
  • The contract period is at least six months and during that period there is a guarantee of 32 working hours per week for at least the minimum weekly wage;
  • Decent housing, internet access, adequate privacy, the ability to lock one’s own room door and a safe for valuables are provided;
  • The housing contract is separated from the employment contract. This allows the temporary worker to have independent housing, and not lose housing immediately upon dismissal;
  • The employment agency oversees policies and practices to prevent sexual harassment, discrimination, arbitrariness/preference, and other undesirable behavior in the workplace;
  • Migrant workers have a voice in participation bodies.


Our starting point is the current situation of labor migrants in the Netherlands: research by both Dutch associations for the temporary employment sector ABU and NBBU (2023) shows that in 2022 there were more than 984,000 labor migrants in the Netherlands, of whom more than 461,000 worked through a temporary employment agency. Furthermore, more than 522,000 were directly employed by a company. Most of the migrant workers sent worked in logistics and horticulture. 

Unfortunately, a large number of these so-called labor migrants (we prefer to call them (international) workers or European citizens) are confronted with (very) poor treatment and exploitation in the Netherlands. Research by the Dutch NGO FairWork (2022) shows that 26% of Dutch companies admit that they are sometimes guilty of labor exploitation. 

For years, harrowing personal stories, alarming reports and policy intentions have been tumbling over us. We conclude that government, companies, NGOs and trade unions are running in a stagnant system.

Action research

Action research has emerged within sociology as a form of participatory research that not only examines social systems, but also seeks a way to bring about social change. In short, it comes down to the fact that in this case we not only research but also want to participate – and thereby change things. Especially in a time of populism, distrust and retreating governments, action research offers the prospect of concrete change.