Gov't expands support package to also cover flexible workers, temps

Waiting for a job interview
Waiting for a job interviewPhoto: AllaSerebrina/DepositPhotos

The government will set up a separate scheme to help support flexible and temporary workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. The scheme is expected to cost hundreds of millions of euros and will be implemented in the coming days, after opposition party PvdA managed to get support from GroenLinks and the four coalition parties for it, AD reports.

In practice, the scheme will mainly be for dismissed temporary workers, on-call workers, or other flexible employees who have not built up sufficient unemployment benefits, according to AD. they are therefore dependent on social assistance, but have to meet strict requirements to qualify. For example, they don't qualify if their partner makes sufficient income and are expected to use their savings before calling on welfare.

These requirements mean that flexible workers are treated differently than self-employed entrepreneurs or freelancers. They can claim from a separate scheme for income support (TOZO) without their savings accounts or partner's income coming into play. The PvdA called this distinction unfair and, with the help of the trade unions, increased pressure on the government to fix it. Under the new scheme, flex workers can also apply for social without the above mentioned requirements. 

A CNV survey recently showed that 275 thousand temporary workers have little or no work due to the coronavirus. Another coronavirus regulation, the so-called NOW scheme, was implemented to prevent mass layoffs. Companies must not dismiss their staff, and in return the government will cover up to 90 percent of the wage bill. But in practice, many temporary and flexible workers still lost their jobs because canceling their contracts does not require a formal dismissal. 

The PvdA hopes that dismissed flex workers will be able to apply for support from coming Monday. "Welfare is a well-known scheme. In principle, only the thresholds need to be lowered. That should be possible within a few days."