The Temporary Emergency Bridging Fund for Employment (NOW scheme) is being expanded for groups. Operating companies whose turnover drops by more than 20%, but are part of a group that does not meet this condition, can now apply under the NOW scheme, subject to certain conditions.
Employers who experience a drop in turnover of at least 20% will have up to 90% of their payroll costs reimbursed via the NOW scheme. It no longer matters whether the drop in turnover can be attributed to the coronavirus crisis or other reasons, such as the PFAS and nitrogen problem. The drop in turnover is calculated by comparing 25% of the turnover for 2019 with the turnover generated from March to May 2020. However, employers can also take a period starting one or two months later as a basis for determining their drop in turnover.
Problem with calculating drop in turnover for groups
In the case of groups the turnover for the whole group is taken as a basis. One problem that results from this is that groups within which staff from one company cannot be deployed in other companies (or only to a limited extent) will in some cases not receive any compensation due to the decline in turnover being calculated on a per-group basis. This would be the case, for example, if one group company loses all of its turnover, but the drop in turnover for the group as a whole is less than 20%. This problem has now been resolved by the expansion of the NOW scheme.
The expansion means that independent legal entities, e.g. private limited companies, within a group will from now on be able to apply under the NOW themselves. This is subject to the conditions outlined below.
- No dividends or bonuses: groups with a company that takes advantage of the scheme must declare that they will not be paying out any dividends or bonuses for 2020 or buying back their own shares.
- No redundancies: the company in question must have an agreement with the trade union on job retention at the company. Companies with fewer than 20 employees can conclude an agreement with an employee representation body.
- No intra-group secondment operating company within the group: groups with an intra-group secondment operating company (‘personeel-bv’) must always take the drop in turnover at group level as a basis.
- Additional safeguards.
A number of additional safeguards are also being incorporated into the NOW scheme to prevent fraud. During the period over which the drop in turnover is measured no orders may be transferred from a company that is taking advantage of the NOW to another company within the group. In addition, changes in inventories will be allocated to turnover. These safeguards are currently being worked out in more detail.
When does it enter into force?
The amendment will be published as soon as possible. This will also indicate when the scheme will enter into force.