Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
NOTE: Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic, with new governmental measures each day, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated guidance on this topic.
On March 27, 2020, the government of the Netherlands announced that the Temporary Benefit for Self-Employed Professionals (Tijdelijke Overbruggingsregeling Zelfstandig Ondernemers) (“Tozo”) is to be made available this week.
A temporary emergency measure that is part of the government’s coronavirus economic relief package, Tozo will provide support for the self-employed such as independent workers without employees. Under this measure, they will be eligible for business credit and income support, the aim being to secure continuity for their businesses.
Tozo was set up with a rapid and flexible application procedure, preferably digital, which can be completed and provide relief within four (4) weeks.
Self-employed professionals must have been registered as such with the Chamber of Commerce by 6:45 p.m. on March 17, 2020 in order to qualify for the measure. They must also meet the working hours criterion for the self-employed tax deduction. If they have been self-employed for over one (1) year, they will have to have worked for at least 1,225 hours in that capacity (24 hours a week) over the last year. Individuals who have been self-employed for less than a year will have to meet the working hours criterion for the number of months they have had that status.
Self-employed professionals who are facing liquidity problems as a result of the coronavirus crisis can obtain business credit. They can apply for a loan of up to EUR 10,157, which will then be made available within four (4) weeks. Interest on this loan, which runs for up to three (3) years, is 2% and the repayment obligation does not kick in until January 2021.
When applying for income support, self-employed professionals who are registered and work mainly in the Netherlands must declare that they expect their income to be less than the social minimum, due to the coronavirus crisis, for the next three (3) months. The viability of their businesses will not be investigated for this benefit. Nor will their own capital or any income earned by partners have any effect on the amount of this income support. In other words, the calculation will not take into account whether an individual has savings and/or owns a house.
The amount of this support, which will be in the nature of a gift and will not have to be repaid, will depend on the recipient’s situation. The income of individuals who are married or live together will be topped up to EUR 1,500 net. Income for single people will be topped up to EUR 1,050. Married or cohabiting couples who are both self-employed will qualify for income support of up to EUR 1,500 net. For now, this measure is set to extend until June 1, 2020.
Municipalities will administer Tozo. On March 27, 2020, the government notified them about the first payments, totalling EUR 250 million, to be distributed to them to implement Tozo. The amounts of these payments are different for each municipality and they can be found here.
The government has also announced that the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid) (“NOW”), announced on March 17, which we reported in a prior article, is expected to be ready in a few days. Previously scheduled for March 31, 2020, this measure therefore looks set to be rolled out on time. NOW will enable businesses to keep paying their employees by offsetting their loss of revenue. Having been anxiously awaited by many businesses, NOW pertains to loss of revenue from March 1, 2020. Applications for NOW will be handled by the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV).