COVID-19 outbreak triggers short-time working
Businesses whose workload the COVID‑19 outbreak has reduced to the point where there is no longer enough work to keep the workforce occupied have the option of applying for short-time working, as a scheme which is available in special scenarios that do not come under the regular entrepreneurial risk. In the event that such a special scenario – and the COVID‑19 outbreak most definitely counts as one – causes the workload being reduced to a level below that needed to keep the entire workforce occupied, this will open up the possibility of the affected employees collecting unemployment benefits due to short-time working. The employer is required to secure a short-time working permit from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in order to qualify for admission to the scheme.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment will issue a short-time working permit on condition that
- the business has fallen victim to a special scenario that does not come under the regular entrepreneurial risk, such as the COVID‑19 outbreak, and
- the workload for the next fortnight up to a maximum of 24 calendar weeks is expected to turn out at least 20 percent lower.
The short-time working permit is issued for a maximum term of six weeks. The employees can simply return to work where the situation has shown improvement before the permit has expired. If there has been no improvement, there is the option of having the permit renewed for a total maximum term of 24 (calendar) weeks. On-call workers with a zero hours contract and temporary workers are not eligible for inclusion in the short-time working scheme.
The employer is under the obligation – using the designated Short Time Working Notification form – to notify UWV, the Netherlands Employee Insurance Agency, of the fact that a short-time working permit has been issued, but need not get back to UWV in the subsequent event of extension of the term having been granted. Once the permit has expired, the employer has the option of applying for unemployment benefits due to short-time working. This is done using UWV’s designated Application for Unemployment Benefits due to Short Time Working form. The temporary unemployment benefits merely relate to the hours during the term of the permit that no work has been performed. UWV will pay out the unemployment benefits to the employer, with the latter paying the staff their full wages.
Any employee who had already fallen ill before the term of the permit kicked in will not be eligible for temporary unemployment benefits due to short-time working. Any employee who falls in while the term of the permit is under way will retain his or her temporary unemployment benefits.
Dutch version: Werktijdverkorting wegens coronavirus