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Netherlands: Expansion of NOW program to support employment (COVID-19)

Netherlands: Expansion of NOW program

The Minister of Social Affairs and Employment on 22 April 2020 announced a proposal to expand the “group approach” with regard to a decline in turnover of the corporate group for purposes of measures to support employment, in relief measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The “temporary emergency bridging measures to retain jobs” (Tijdelijke noodmaatregel overbrugging voor behoud van werkgelegenheid—NOW) would be amended and expanded. As established, the NOW program could only be used if the decline in turnover of the entire group during the reference period amounts to at least 20%. The separate or individual situation of group companies has heretofore been irrelevant.

However, the government currently supports a more expansive approach—thus, if the decline in turnover at the group level is less than 20%, then the decline in turnover of an individual operating company could be used (and that operating company could, in principle, apply for the NOW program if there is a decline of turnover at that level of at least 20%). The operating company must be a legal entity; the easing of the NOW requirements therefore would not apply to business units, branches, permanent establishments, etc.

If the decline in turnover at the group level is at least 20%, then this easing would not apply and only the group’s decline in turnover would apply for the purposes of the NOW program (and only the group could apply for the NOW).

The amendment is expected to be published during the week beginning 27 April 2020. NOW applications based on this easing could be filed as of the date when the amendment takes effect.

The Lower House of Parliament on 22 April 2020 unanimously adopted a motion requesting that if the NOW program is extended, the government is urged to include a condition stipulating that companies using the NOW relief measures must not distribute any dividends, award any bonuses or redeem any of their own shares in 2020 and 2021.

Read an April 2020 report prepared by the KPMG member firm in the Netherlands

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