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Now is the time for NOW!

7 april 2020 | Door:  Frank Troost

On 31 March, the government provided more clarity on the conditions and rules of the Temporary Emergency Measure Transition for Employment Continuation (Tijdelijke Noodmaatregel Overbrugging voor Werkbehoud: NOW). This arrangement offers compensation for your payroll costs in the event of loss of sales (or other exceptional circumstances). The UWV strives to start accepting such applications for a NOW compensation from 6 April onwards. Because you will have to make choices and weigh your options, it is wise to be well prepared.

In summary, what is the NOW scheme about?

In the event of a loss of sales of 20% or more, you can receive a compensation from the government covering up to 90% of your wage bills compared with your January 2020 wage bill. If your loss of turnover is 100%, your compensation is up to 90% of the so-called SV wage total (social security base). For example, the allowance is a maximum of 45% in the event of a 50% loss of turnover. And you will receive a maximum of 22.5% compensation if you retrospectively determine that 25% of your sales were lost.

Below, please find an explanation showing that sometimes you can make strategic choices - naturally always within the limits of the regulations! - in the application for your compensation.

Loss of sales

The NOW compensation is reserved for those with an average loss of sales of at least 20% in a consecutive period of at least three months in the period from March to July, the duration of the NOW scheme. First, you need to determine your (expected) loss of sales. This is based on comparing your sales in a consecutive period of three months between March through July (for example April, May and June) with 25% of your sales in the full 2019 calendar year.

Example:

2019 sales: € 1,200,000 (25% of which = € 300,000)
2020 sales in April, May, June: € 180,000
Decrease in sales = 40%

Is the result of your calculation lower than 20% (which fortunately means a relatively small loss of sales in that sense)? In that case, you are not (yet) eligible for the NOW payroll compensation. In that case, you can and may indicate in any subsequent application that you want the so-called measurement period for the turnover comparison to start one or two months later (but always on the first of March, April or May).

Special situations when determining your loss of sales

Do you experience fluctuations or peaks in your sales in a consecutive period of three months in the period March to July? Even then, it may be advisable to wait with your NOW application. At a later time, you may have more insight into whether (in that case) you have lost at least 20% of your sales on average.

Do you have a business group? Then you determine your loss of sales by adding up the sales totals of all legal entities and possibly also natural persons for the months of March, April and May. This is then compared with 25% of the total sales generated by such entities and persons over 2019.

Did you start your business after 1 January 2019? Then you take 25% of three times the average monthly sales of 2019 plus the months January and February 2020.

Advance

If you actually lost 20% or more of your sales (on average), you can submit the NOW application. On the basis of the information provided, you will then receive an advance payment of 80% from the UWV within 2 to 4 weeks.

Advance = A x B x 3 x 1.3 x 0.9 x 0.8
A = percentage of your estimated loss of sales
B = SV wage bill January 2020 (based on the wage bill for that month)
1.3 = the fixed increase of 30% for your employer costs
0.9 = 90% (the percentage of the compensation)
0.8 = 80% (the percentage of the advance)

The advance will be allocated to you on the basis of your best estimate of loss of sales. You will receive the advance payment in three instalments. The UWV aims to pay you the first instalment within two to four weeks, but in any case within thirteen weeks. Below we will elaborate on the various elements of this formula.

Best effort commitment

The government assumes that you keep the wage bill as stable as possible. This is related to the payment of the advance and - at a later stage - the final determination of the compensation. After all, the aim of the NOW scheme is continued employability and income for your employees. In practice, this does not mean that you have to extend your temporary contracts. Also, you may not dismiss personnel for any reason other than business economics. You may use your on-call employees less if there is less need for their deployment.

Informing employees

If you have a Works Council, you must inform the Works Council or employee representatives that you have submitted an application. If you do not have a Works Council, inform your employees directly.

SV wage bill: what is included?

In the context of the NOW scheme, it is good to understand exactly how the government defines ‘wage bill'. This is the so-called social insurance wage basis (SV wage). In the first place, this concerns the wages of your employees: your permanent employees, your employees with a temporary contract and your on-call workers. It also includes the wages of 'fictitious employees for employee insurance schemes'.

However, you do not receive any compensation for the wages of persons insured for social insurance on a voluntary basis. Even if you are a DGA (director and majority shareholder) without a minority interest, you cannot receive compensation for your wage under the NOW scheme. However, as a DGA, you may be able to apply to the TOGS. Employee insurance premiums are paid on internship allowances for your trainees and the wages of your BBL employees. Therefore, you can also receive an allowance for their remuneration.

Do you work with hired contract workers, such as agency payrollers and temporary agency workers? Then you do not pay their wage; instead, they are on the relevant temporary agency’s or payrolling company’s payroll. This means you cannot apply for compensation for their wage costs (the temporary employment agency or payrolling company can do that). The continued payment of wages to any employees on sick leave is included for the NOW compensation.

Your continued payment of WAZO or Sickness benefits will be reimbursed by the government via the UWV. You deduct these amounts from your SV wage bill when applying for your compensation. An irregular hours allowance is part of the SV wage. You will therefore also receive compensation for this allowance. Any holiday allowance payments do not count towards the wage bill. Nor does the transition allowance paid out during the reference period.

The compensation also does not cover any commuting and travel allowances paid out. The latter may or should be a reduced payment as your employees work less or no longer work. Finally: the compensation exclusively covers your employees with a (fictitious) employment contract with social insurance in the Netherlands.

January 2020

For the advance and the final calculation of your allowance, the UWV in principle knows and applies your SV wage bill of January 2020 (or, if those data are not available, November 2019). This means that any higher wage bill in the months of March, April and May does not lead to a higher compensation afterwards. However, a lower wage bill over that period will lead to a lower compensation.

Please note: for your more expensive employees, a maximum of € 9,538 of their salary is counted on a monthly basis and per employee.

Per payroll tax number (LH number)

The wage bill is determined per payroll tax number. Do you have several payroll tax numbers for your company (for example ...LH01 and ...LH02)? Then you need to submit applications for each payroll tax number.

Business group

Do you have a business group? Then submit a NOW application for each LH number. You submit the decrease in sales that you expect for your entire group. For each application (each LH number), enter the same decrease in sales and the same reference period.

Every four weeks

Perhaps your company pays out wages every four weeks. In that case, the SV wage over four weeks is converted to the SV wage over a month, by increasing the four-week SV wage sum by 8.33%. As an approximation of the wage bill in March, April and May 2020, in the case of four-week pay, the weeks that most overlap with those months are taken: the third to fifth periods of 2020 (i.e. 24 February to 17 May 2020).

Application period

This closes on 31 May 2020; after this date, applications for the NOW grant are no longer accepted.

One-off

You can only submit a NOW application once. This can be an important reason for you to think carefully about the start date of your reference period. In turn, that date strongly depends on whether and when you know or are sure enough of your loss of sales.

30% mark-up on the wage bill

The NOW scheme also offers you compensation for your employer costs and additional employee costs such as employer contributions, pension contributions (employee and employer share) and the accrual of holiday allowance. Because calculation at an individual level is not possible, the UWV uses a uniform 30% mark-up on your SV wage bill.

Final decision

It is important to know that subsequent corrections can be made in the final compensation decision:

Again: if the wage bill from March to May was lower than the wage bill of January 2020 (or November 2019), the final amount of compensation will be lower. Therefore, please bear in mind that after that final determination, you may have to pay back an amount to the UWV, even though the advance was already 10% lower than the 90% that applies to the compensation.

Reduction due to termination of employment

Even if you submit or have submitted an application to the UWV for termination of employment on the grounds of business economics, the compensation will be reduced upon final determination. The wage of the employee(s) for whom you continue the application for termination of employment to the UWV will first be increased by 50%. Subsequently, the wage of the employee(s) in question, increased by that 50%, is deducted from the wage amounts included in the calculation of your allowance.

For example, your compensation will not be reduced in the event of:

▪ termination during the probation period
▪ termination of employment by mutual consent (settlement agreement)
▪ non-renewal of temporary contracts
▪ dismissal for reasons other than business economics (such as dysfunction or a disrupted employment relationship)
▪ applications for termination of employment submitted to the UWV until 17 March 2020
▪ applications for terminations submitted to the UWV after 17 March, which you withdrew in time

Auditor's report

Within 24 weeks after the end of the period for which the NOW has been granted, you need to apply for the final determination of the compensation. An auditor's report should be attached.  (It is possible that the Ministry will soon communicate a further limit on the 2019 sales threshold up to which an auditor's report is not required.)

Final decision on compensation

Within 22 weeks of receiving this application, the UWV will determine the final compensation. The settlement may involve a settlement payment or a refund. The latter applies if, for example, the loss of sales was lower than estimated at the time of the application.

Did you submit a WTV application?

Have you not yet received a decision on your application for a reduction of working hours (WTV; was possible until 18 March)? In that case, the WTV application is deemed to be an application for compensation under the NOW scheme. You are, however, required to supplement the WTV application with the information required for the NOW compensation.

Concurrence of NOW and WTV

Have you been granted a WTV permit? Then you cannot renew it after the permit period. However, you can then apply for compensation on the basis of the NOW scheme. In the event of any overlap of WW (Unemployment) funds under the WTV scheme and the NOW compensation, these former amounts will be deducted from your SV wage bill in the period of March through May. This is to prevent double compensation for your wage bill for a certain period of time.

Ask Alfa!

It's a lot to take in, and it's complex. That is why we are happy to assist you if you want to make use of the NOW scheme. Alfa is always near you!