Don't scale down Covid support, employers ask as third round of wage support launches
From today, employers can apply for the third round of the NOW regulation, with which the government covers part of the wage bill of companies facing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. Benefits agency expects a wave of applications. Employers organization VNO-NCW and trade union FNV called on the government not to scale down support at this stage, NOS reports.
Some changes were made to NOW 3, compared to the previous two rounds of this support measure. Employers now have more room to dismiss people, and the maximum compensation is lower. The plan is that this compensation will be gradually reduced further next year.
VNO-NCW and FNV warned that reducing support now will cause companies to fall into deeper problems. "It is difficult to estimate how great the need is now," Zakaria Boufangacha of FNV said to NOS. "When the cabinet decided to gradually phase out the package from October, it assumed the worst of the pandemic was over. Unfortunately, that was not the case." The after-effects of the second coronavirus wave are severe in some sectors, he said. "If you continue to scale down, and you end up in a worse situation or possibly a third wave, you will see that there will be many more layoffs and more people will be out of work."
Edwin van Scherrenburg of VNO-NCW told the broadcaster that the organization is currently talking to the cabinet about reversing this phasing out of support. "After all, we are in the second wave with another partial lockdown and many hard-hit sectors." He would not say how those conversations are going. But he did raise concerns that the current support will be insufficient. "The reserves of many companies have now fallen to zero and we must prevent that fundamentally healthy companies fall over due to all government measures."
In NOW 1, benefits agency UWV received 140 thousand applications for wage support, including 35 thousand on the first day. In the second round, that dropped to 65 thousand applications in total, with only 5,500 in the first day. This time around, the UWV expects applications more on the level of the first round. "Because we are actually a bit in the same situation as then," Janet Helder of the benefits agency said to NOS.