Corona virus: implications for Dutch staff, current and new legislation explained

What consequences does the COVID-19 have for your employees in the Netherlands? How to use the aids the different countries are providing and what to do in case you need to take drastic measures? Every country has its own measures regarding the Corona virus. We monitor the situation and have put all information together per country. If you employ people in the Netherlands, you can find frequently asked questions below. 

*The information in the blog has the purpose to help the reader with gaining more knowledge and insights on the measures taken by the government. Please keep in mind that we have outlined basic rules. There might be specific terms, rules and regulations to each measure. As a result, EuroDev cannot guarantee any reimbursements or liabilities.  For more detailed information, please contact our experts.

Updated: 24 April 2020

Number of confirmed cases in the Netherlands April 24 2020: 35,729

On the 21st of April, the PM revealed what next steps are being taken to return to normality. First limited steps are taken to ease the current rules and measures. Any opening will be partial and in stages. Examples of developments are the partial reopening of primary schools and daycare. Also, sports can be resumed again for children and teenagers. 

Business: High-contact businesses (hairdressers, nail salons, message therapists etc.) will remain closed until at least May 20. Many retail shops in the Netherlands, clothing stores, DIY stores etc. are open. Most of the measures that were already in place have been extended until May 20. This means that employees mainly work from home and that bars, restaurants and other events are still closed. 

  • Stay home as much as possible. Leave the house only to go to work if you cannot work at home
  • Public transport and shops are required to take measures to ensure that people keep a good distance. For instance, by limiting the number of people allowed in the shop at the same time.

Measures for businesses:

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Dutch government has decided to implement a series of unprecedented economic measures. The measures are designed not only to protect our health, but also to protect people's jobs and livelihoods and to minimise the impact on self-employed people, small and medium-sized enterprises and major companies. Under the newly announced measures, billions of euros will be invested into the economy every month, for as long as necessary. The measures will ensure that companies are able to pay their employees' wages, grant a bridging arrangement for self-employed people and allow companies to hang on to their money through relaxed tax provisions, allowances and supplemental lines of credit.

  1. Establish a temporary arrangement for the reimbursement of wage costs (NOW)

An entrepreneur who expects a loss of turnover (at least 20%) can apply to the Employee Insurance Agency UWV for a period of three months for an allowance for wage costs. The allowance will cover a maximum 90% of the wage bill, depending on the loss of turnover. The UWV will provide an advance payment of 80% of the requested allowance. This will enable companies to continue to pay their staff. One condition is that no staff may be dismissed for business economic reasons during the subsidy period. This Temporary Emergency Measure Bridging Work for the Preservation of Work will be effective as soon as possible and will replace the current scheme for reducing working hours. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW, will no longer be able to submit new applications for this with immediate effect. Applications that have already been made, but not yet settled, will be settled in the new scheme. Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for compensation for a reduction in turnover from after 1 March 2020.

  1. Compensation for sectors affected

The government's measures have enormous consequences for income in a number of sectors in particular. Such as, for example, the (compulsory) closure of eating and drinking establishments and cancellations in the travel sector. Moreover, these revenues are difficult to catch up with even when the coronavirus is gone. The Cabinet will therefore come up with a compensation scheme with appropriate measures for businesses in the sectors mentioned. This will now be worked out and submitted to the European Commission as a matter of urgency for the assessment of (lawful) state aid.

  1. Extra support for independent entrepreneurs

The government will introduce a temporary, more flexible scheme to support independent entrepreneurs, including self-employed persons, so that they can continue their business. The scheme will be implemented by municipalities. Self-employed persons can receive additional income support for living expenses for a period of three months, via an accelerated procedure. This supplements the income up to the social minimum and does not have to be repaid.

 

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy announced that they will take measures to help businesses that have been affected by the corona pandemic.

  • One of the measures is that requirements to apply for unemployment benefit during short-time working (Wtv in Dutch) will be easier to meet.
  • If you are a self-employed professional/contractor, you may apply for financial support for self-employed professionals (Bbz in Dutch).

Short-time working

If you (temporarily) have less work for your employees, you can apply for an unemployment benefit during short-time working. This benefit allows you to give your employees less work for a certain time period, and receive an unemployment compensation for the hours missed. Your employees will remain in your employment and receive their regular salary. It is not always possible to apply for these benefits, it depends on your situation. In order to benefit from this arrangement, you have to apply for a permit first. This process can take quite some time and effort, so it is good to know in advance if you fit the criteria. If successful, the permit is granted for a maximum of 6 weeks. It may be extended a maximum of 3 times if a return to normal operating conditions is expected.

  • When do you qualify?
  • What are the criteria of employment?

For more specific information about your employees in the Netherlands, we recommend a tailored approach as each case is different. Feel free to reach out for a quick call about these measures and how they can help your business.

Self-employed professionals

If you are a freelancer or self-employed professional in the Netherlands and in need of financial support, your local government can offer you various forms of social benefit options under the Decree on Assistance to the Self-Employed (Bbz in Dutch). The Bbz offers loans, credits or low income supplements. Whether you are eligible for financial support as a freelancer/self-employed professional depends on your situation. Your local municipality can help you with this.

FAQ Dutch employment during Corona virus

1. Do I have to let my employees work from home?   

The advice to you, as an employer, is to let employees work from home as much as possible until 6 April 2020. Therefore, consider whether working from home is possible for your employees. If working from home is not possible due to the nature of your business, and employees have to come to their place of work, then try to spread the working hours as much as possible, for example by creating morning and evening shifts.

2. Can I adjust the working hours of my employees?   

That is up to you, as an employer. The advice is to spread the working hours during the day until 6 April 2020 where possible.

3. Can I apply for a reduction in working hours? 
4. Do I have to continue to pay wages if my employee is sick during holidays due to corona virus infection and has to remain in quarantine or isolation.   
5. What about  international transport and shipping? Will there be stricter customs procedures?

 

In addition to these questions, you might have questions specific to your case and company. If you are looking for answers, we are happy to help. Schedule a 15-minute call with Monique Ramondt, VP of HR Outsourcing via the image below:

Schedule a call with Monique

About EuroDev

EuroDev, established in 1996 with offices in The Netherlands and France, has a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. We have created a proven, successful business development model and since our founding, have partnered with over 300 companies to help them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing and Digital Marketing. 

Sources: KVK, NRC, Rijksoverheid

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