Dutch salary support scheme launched, but start-ups are excluded

Photo: UWV
Photo: UWV

Local authorities on Monday opened job centre help desks for companies struggling to pay staff wages because of the coronacrisis shutdown as part of the government’s emergency fund scheme known as NOW.

The scheme allows companies to claim up to 90% of their wage bills, depending on how hard their earnings have been hit. A company which has no turnover at all, for example, will be able to claim 90% of staff salaries. Those where earnings have halved can claim 45%.

Companies have to be able to show that their turnover has gone down by at least 20% over a three month period and that they intend to keep paying staff. People on flexible contracts are also covered by the scheme, which the government hopes will encourage employers to keep temporary staff on their books.

Officials expect between 100,000 and 150,000 companies will apply to make use of the scheme. But hundreds of young companies will not be able to apply because they do not meet the criteria.


The Dutch start-up association DSA has twice written to the government urging it to take the specific circumstances of start-ups into account in its support schemes. Start-ups are excluded from the NOW scheme because they often don’t have any turnover.

‘If they are denied access to the emergency measure, these thousands of companies will have no choice but to shed a multitude of jobs,’ the DSA said.

‘Their people will be out on the streets and many of these companies will not survive. At the same time, now, in times of crisis, the innovation power of start-ups is so badly needed to restore the economy and societal cohesion.’

A number of venture capital companies have also written to the finance and economic affairs ministry urging the government to help support young tech companies during the corona crisis.

‘Many tech firms are taking hits which they cannot recover from,’ Niels van Aalten, a partner at Holland Capital, told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘We are doing our bit, but we cannot do it alone.’


Meanwhile, health insurance companies have said they are prepared to help finance self-employed dentists, physiotherapists and dieticians, who are not covered by the NOW scheme or other schemes to help freelancers but can no longer do their jobs.

Health insurers association ZN said it expects healthcare professionals will be able to claim between 65% and 80% of the turnover they could expect in normal circumstances.

The money will come from buffers which insurance companies have built up from premiums, a spokesman said.

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