Posted on: 17-03-2020

Working time reduction in the Netherlands

Written by:

Hein Kernkamp

Working time reduction

In the Netherlands, 5,000 employers applied for reductions in working hours for their employees in connection with the loss of work due to the Corona crisis in the week before the Netherlands Government decided to take social distancing measures. On March 16, 2020, the day that the schools in the Netherlands closed, there were already 20,000 to be increased to 50,000 a day later. This prompted the cabinet to intervene. The Working Time Reduction Scheme has expired immediately and will be replaced by the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Retention of Work (NOW). The content of this article is therefore obsolete and is expected to become applicable again after the Corona crisis has raged.

What is working time reduction

Pursuant to Article 8 paragraph 1 BBA 1945, it is forbidden to set the working time of an employee to fewer hours per week than agreed, but the minister can grant exemption from this prohibition by means of a permit to shorten working hours. During the period that this is licensed, the employer can make use of the employee's services for fewer hours per week, who, on the other hand, are entitled to unemployment benefit for the hours that he does not work.

When can working time reduction be used?

These must be extraordinary events that do not fall under the normal business risk. For example, a fire or a flood, but nowadays the outbreak of the Corona crisis is the reason. The application must demonstrate that this is the case.

Where to apply for the short-time working permit?

A permit for working time reduction must be applied for at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW). See the link at the bottom of this article.

working time reduction in the Netherlands

How long can working time reduction last?

The short-time working permit is valid for a maximum of 6 weeks. Will the situation improve within 6 weeks? Then the employees can return to normal work. If there is no improvement yet, an extension of the permit can be requested. Under the current regulation, the exemption from the prohibition of short-time working applies for a maximum period of 24 consecutive calendar weeks. This is related to the fact that the employer cannot shorten working hours if the reduced use of labor capacity will last longer than 26 weeks. In that case, a layoff would be more appropriate. Whether the Corona crisis is reason to extend the period is currently unclear.

The permit has been granted, now what?

If the employer has received the permit for working time reduction from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the employer will have to notify UWV of this, using the Notification of working time reduction form. See the link at the bottom of this article.

What if shortening working hours alone is not enough?

In that case it is advisable to apply for a dismissal permit. The working time reduction scheme is not intended for situations where there is no prospect of a resumption of full working time.

Useful links

Every employer can apply for a permit for short-time working, via the links below:

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If your question is not listed, you can of course contact us by email or telephone. It is not without reason that our motto is: "Your problem, our concern."

More information?

Hein Kernkamp will gladly help you further.

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