Netherlands – Temporary Emergency Measure Bridging Employment (‘NOW’)

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On March 31, 2020 the details of emergency measures where shared in a press conference and the scheme was published simultaneously. This memo sets out the main lines of the NOW scheme.

Loss of turnover

Under the NOW scheme, employers can apply for an allowance for labour costs if they expect a loss of turnover of at least 20%. The loss of turnover of at least 20% must occur over a three-month period starting on the first day of the months March, April or May 2020. It must always relate to a consecutive period of three months.

The turnover is compared with 25% of the turnover from January to December 2019.

The loss of turnover is determined at group level. If a group as a whole has a loss of turnover of less than 20%, no compensation will be paid to any individual parts of that group that are still inactive. Net turnover is taken as the net turnover, i.e. the income from the supply of goods and services from the business of the legal entity less discounts and the like and tax levied on the turnover.

Wages and salaries

The employer must pay the wages to the employees in full, but can apply to the UWV (social security insurer for employees) for an allowance for labour costs. On the other hand, the employee must also be fully available to perform work.

The NOW scheme also covers employees with employees with a flexible contract insofar as they continue to be employed and receive wages from the employer during the subsidy period. The wage bill of all employees with a social security wage (virtually all) are eligible for the subsidy. These are, for example, employees with a so-called fictitious employment contract for employee insurance, but not voluntarily insured persons.

Wages up to € 9,538 gross per month are considered, the amount surpassing the same is not considered for the subsidy. Additional charges and costs such as employer contributions and employee contributions to pension and the accrual of holiday allowance are also compensated. A lump-sum surcharge for employer charges of 30% applies.

Advance payment

 The advance payment provided under the NOW is, in principle, based on the wage bill for the January 2020 return period. If there are no wage data for January 2020, the UWV will assume November 2019. If there are no data for this period either, no subsidy can be granted.

If the wage bill for the months March-April-May is lower, the amount of the subsidy will be reduced by 90% of the amount by which the wage bill fell. The settlement is an incentive to keep employees employed as much as possible for the hours they worked before the severe drop in turnover.

Calculation

The amount of the allowance for wage costs depends on the drop in turnover and amounts to a maximum of 90% of the wage bill. For example: If 100% of the turnover is lost, the allowance amounts to 90% of the wage and salary bill of the employer and if 50% of the turnover is lost, the allowance amounts to 45% of the wage and salary bill of the employer.

Extension of the arrangement

It was previously announced that the period of the allowance, which is 3 months, may be extended once for a further period of 3 months. The Cabinet now announces that this extension has not yet been decided; it will be decided before 1 June 2020, so that any second tranche will be in line with the first application period ending on 31 May 2020. In case of extension, further conditions may be added to the scheme.

Prohibition of dismissal

When applying on the grounds of the NOW, the employer undertakes in advance not to apply for dismissal on the grounds of business economics for his employees during the period for which the allowance is received. The employer is therefore expected not to apply to the UWV for permission to terminate an employment contract on the grounds of business economics in the period from 18 March to 31 May 2020 inclusive. The prohibition on dismissal does not apply to dismissal applications submitted to the UWV in the period from 1 March to 17 March 2020.

If a request for dismissal is nevertheless made and this request is not withdrawn (or not withdrawn on time), a correction will be made when the subsidy is determined. When the subsidy is determined, the wages of the employees for whom dismissal has been requested will be determined. This wage is then increased by 50%. This wage plus the 50% increase is deducted from the total wage sum on which the final amount of the subsidy is based.

Submitting the request

The UWV will be charged with processing the application. The applications are expected to be submitted on 6 April next. The first advance payments will be made within 2 to 4 weeks. This advance payment will in any case amount to 80% of the grant.

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