Health and Safety Acts
The Health and Safety at Work Act (Arbowet) and the Working Hours Act (Arbeidstijdenwet) place strict obligations upon employers in order to protect their staff and to ensure safe and healthy working. Artists run risks, as well. Dancers, for instance, work with risks comparable to those of top class sportsmen, musicians can sustain irreparable hearing damage, filmmakers and many others can suffer from RSI and stress.
Whether certain rules apply to you depends upon whether or not you work under orders. But it does not matter whether you are paid, and if so by whom: student trainees, volunteers and agency staff are all covered. The Health and Safety at Work Act (Arbowet) also applies to students in higher education!
The Working Hours Act (Arbeidstijdenwet) has a few exceptions for performing artists. The Health and Safety at Work Act has no restrictions or exceptions at all. However, these laws do not apply to work carried out to order. So employees are better protected.
The Health and Safety at Work Act (Arbowet)
The Working Conditions Act is aimed towards prevention of accidents and occupational diseases. The regulations on the employment contract in the civil code determine whether and if so, how the employee can demand compensation from the employer after an accident or occupational disease. The employer should map out the risks in a Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RIE) and draw up a campaign plan and adjust it to the latest insights. Doing this, he should adjust the risks to the source, working as precautionary as possible…But they also require your employer to protect you from sexual harassment, for example.
The Working Hours Act: exemptions from and addenda
If an organisation has no working-hours agreement in place, then the standard regulations apply. There is also a so-called consultative arrangement, but an employer may only make use of this if collective agreements have been reached about it. Because travelling theatre technicians, for example, may have to work longer hours on certain days than allowed for under the standard regulations, the dance and theatre industries have agreed more flexible working times in their collective agreements (CAOs). But if even the consultative arrangements prove inadequate, the employer must find an alternative solution – for instance, hiring more people to work the extra hours, introducing shift working or shortening travel times by providing overnight accommodation close to the workplace.
The Working Hours Act imposes maximum working hours and minimum rest periods. The number of jobs in which you work these hours is immaterial. Note that the employer risks a fine from the Labour Inspectorate if you work more than the permitted number of hours. If the offence is repeated several times, the employer can even be prosecuted. This is why some CAOs state that the employer's permission is required before you can take a second job.
The Working Hours Act does not apply to employees in management positions who earn more than twice the minimum wage on an annual basis, or to any employee who earns more than three times the minimum wage. For the purposes of this definition, you count as a manager if at least 75 per cent of your work is managerial in nature. The minimum wage for workers aged 23 or over is approximately €1469,40 gross per month on a full-time basis (as of 1 January 2013).