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Update on Corona with regards to Dutch retail

At this point in time a lot of stores in the Netherlands are effected by the Corona (COVID-19) virus.

The government has taken measures to decrease the spread of the virus. A summary of the current measurements can be found here. Information about specific health measurements can be found here and should be communicated to staff members.

Measurements with regards to personnel and scheduling:

It is possible to schedule employees less hours when they have a labour contract containing the bandwidth provision of the collective labour agreement.

Bandwidth:
If flexible working hours have been agreed, the employer may oblige the employee to perform either more or less working hours a week, within a bandwidth of plus and minus 35 percent of the number of base hours. In any case, a minimal bandwidth of plus or minus 6 hours compared to the number of base hours is possible, with a maximum number of scheduled hours of 45 hours a week. Also see paragraph 4.2 of the collective labour agreement.

Employment Bridging Emergency Fund (NOW)          

As of yesterday the ruling regarding the reduction of working hours has been withdrawn and can no longer be used. Yesterday evening the government announced a new fund: the Employment Bridging Emergency Fund (NOW).

At this point in time we are looking into the new ruling and the effects of the ruling. Some important points we already want to share with you:

  1. The ruling can be applied for retroactively as of 1 March 2020.
  2. The ruling contains a advance payment to compensate wage expenses.
  3. De ruling contains a relation between loss of turn-over and compensation of wage expenses. The actual turnover loss depends the height of the final compensation.
  4. Employees with a contract for definite and indefinite period can still work and are entitled to 100% wage payment, a maximum of 90% of the wage expenses can be compensated. This depends on the amount of turnover loss.
  5. Requests made for a reduction of working hours are automatically transferred to the new ruling. You will be requested to provide more information with regards to the new ruling.

A lot of information is not yet worked out by the government yet. We are working to keep our information as up to date as possible. The definite ruling may take up to two weeks before it comes available. More information on the ruling can be found below:

NOW: the Fund Employment Bridging Emergency (Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid)

If you employ staff in the Netherlands and you expect a turnover loss of at least 20% you can claim a compensation with regards to wages for a period of three months. The claim is capped on a maximum of 90% of the wage expenses, depending on the loss of turnover.

The NOW-scheme replaces the unemployment benefit during short-time working (wtv). You can no longer apply for unemployment benefit because of a loss of work for employees.

What is NOW?

Due to extraordinary circumstances, like the coronavirus, you have less or no work for your employees. You can apply to the Employment Bridging Emergency Fund for a substantial compensation for their wages. In this way, you can continue to pay employees with permanent and temporary contracts. The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will pay you an advance.

You can claim the compensation for 3 months, with the possibility to extend it for a further 3 months. You can claim the compensation for turnover you have missed from 1 March onwards.

Conditions if you want to claim NOW

  • If you claim NOW, you will not be allowed to request permission to dismiss employees on economic grounds during the period for which you receive compensation.
  • You expect to lose at least 20% turnover.
  • You claim compensation for 3 months, with the possibility to extend it once, for a further 3 months (extra conditions may apply to an extension application).
  • The Employment Bridging Emergency Fund is compensation for turnover you have missed from 1 March 2020 onwards.
  • You will need to submit a statement from an accountant for claims that exceed a certain amount (the height of which is yet to be established).

How much compensation for wages can you claim?

The compensation for wages you can claim depends on the turnover loss. You can claim a maximum of 90% of the wages. For example:

  • If the turnover loss is 100%, the compensation will amount to 90% of wages
  • If the turnover loss is 50%, the compensation will amount to 45% of wages
  • If the turnover loss is 25%, the compensation will amount to 22.5% of wages

Based on your application, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will pay you an advance of 80% of the expected compensation. The actual turnover loss will be determined afterwards. When determining the definitive compensation, a correction can be made, if there has been a decrease in wages.

How do you apply?

This will be announced as soon as the information is available. This will most likely be via the UWV.

Can you still apply for unemployment benefit during short-time working (wtv)?

No, that is no longer possible. If you have already applied for wtv, you will be notified. The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will treat your wtv application as a claim for NOW compensation. Read why the wtv has been cancelled and what you should do if you have already been awarded wtv.

Is it possible dismiss employees due to the coronavirus affecting our business?

Generally, that will be difficult as the employer shall need to prove that due to economic circumstances, it is necessary that jobs will become redundant within a future period of at least 26 weeks.

Contact

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact us. Mail to: info@inretail.nl or call us: +31 88 973 06 00.