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The government has taken measures to protect you and your staff against the coronavirus. Keeping 1.5 metres distance, for example, and working from home. Read what you can and must do for your employees.
Encourage your employees to work from homeThe government advises working from home as much as possible, to curb the spreading of the coronavirus. This measure does not apply to crucial and vital professions (in Dutch) like caregivers, supermarket employees and transport workers. If working from home is not possible, try to spread the working hours. Make sure there aren’t too many people in the workplace at the same time. Your employees have to keep 1.5 metres distance in the workplace, same as everywhere else. If your employees use public transport for their home-work travel, it may be a good idea to provide them with face masks.
Tips for working from homeYou are responsible for good working conditions. This is also true when your employees have to work from home. Think of lending an office chair or monitor from your office for the time being. Your employees need to feel that you understand and trust them during this period. Stay in touch on a regular basis if you are managing them long-distance. Find more tips on staying fit an healthy while working at home on Arboportaal, a website by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (in Dutch).
Your employee falls illIf your employee calls in sick, you cannot ask why. Not even to inquire if they have symptoms of the coronavirus. It is up to your employee to decide if they want to tell you. The company doctor or the health and safety agency are the only ones allowed to process the medical data. Has coronavirus been officially diagnosed in one of your employees? Then take immediate action (in Dutch).
One of your employee’s housemates falls illYour employee has to stay at home if one of their housemates develops common cold symptoms or a fever. Your employee can only come in to work if they perform a crucial or vital profession. If your employee has to self-isolate, but cannot work from home, you must continue to pay them their wages. Nor can you deduct leave hours, unless you both agree to this.
Refusing entry to the workplaceYou are responsible for offering your employees a safe and healthy work environment. Refusing someone entry to the workplace may be necessary to ensure this.
Face masks for contact-based professions: yes or no?Contact-based professionals like hairdressers, beauticians, or pedicures do not have to wear non-medical face masks. You and your employees can decide for yourselves if you want to wear face masks anyway. There are rules and protocols for contact-based professions. For instance, you may only serve customers who have pre-booked.
Forcing your employees to take leave daysYou cannot force your employees to take leave days, even if you have less work for them due to the corona crisis. You can discuss it with them. The employee decides if they want to take leave or not.
NLWerktDoor!: employees on loan
Do you have less work for your employees? Perhaps a business in a different sector is busier than usual and looking for temporary workers. You could loan your employee to this business temporarily. The exchange programme NLWerktDoor! (The Netherlands keeps on working) is set up for just this purpose. It is an initiative launched by the Employee Insurance Agency UWV, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, several municipalities, employers, and trade unions. NLWerktDoor! is part of the government effort to save as many jobs as possible.
Withholding or delaying holiday allowanceYou are not allowed to withhold your employees’ holiday allowance, or to delay paying holiday allowance. You and your employees can come to an arrangement together. If you do, you have to lay them down in writing, for instance as part of a plan to keep your company afloat.
Prevent staff dismissalsIf the corona crisis makes it hard or impossible for you to continue paying your staff, you can apply for the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Continued Employment NOW from the government. NOW can compensate a maximum of 90% of your total wage sum. This allows you to continue paying your employees, both permanent and flex or fixed-term ones. Check out the other financial measures for employers and entrepreneurs.
NOW scheme includes holiday allowanceThe NOW scheme includes compensation for the monthly accruement of your employee’s holiday allowance. You receive 30% on top of your employee’s wage sum, to accrue holiday allowance, and to pay for pension and employer contributions.
NL Leert Door
NL Leert Door is a temporary support scheme which offers free (online) retraining courses and advice on career development to anyone from age 18 up to retirement. Employers who want to apply for NOW 2.0 are obliged to stimulate their employees to take retraining or reskilling courses. NL leert door will be launched on 1 August 2020. On the website hoewerktnederland.nl (in Dutch), you can find more information about the expected scheme.
Read more about the conditions for NOW 2.0 here.
Not renewing your employee’s contract
You may not want to, or be able to, renew an employee’s contract. For instance, because it is a fixed-term contract, or your employee has been off sick for a long time. You don’t have to renew a fixed-term contract, regardless of whether the employee in question is off sick or not. A fixed-term contract ends on the date stated in the contract. If the contract is a permanent one, it depends on the circumstances and duration of the contract whether or not you can dismiss your employee. Is your employee ill? Check carefully whether or not you are allowed to dismiss them.
TOFA for flex workers
If you employ flex workers, but have had little work for them due to the corona crisis, make them aware of the TOFA measure. TOFA, or Temporary Bridging measure for Flex Workers, is a gross benefit of €550 per month they can apply for at the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) to compensate for lost income over the months March, April and May. For more information, see the UWV website (in Dutch).