Workers under NOW scheme do not have to work overtime for free

Minister Koolmees answers parliamentary questions

Last week Wouter Koolmees, the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, answered questions from the House of Representatives on the NOW (the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment) . He clarified whether or not employees whose employers have made use of the NOW are obliged to come to work extra hours in order to make up for hours not worked due to the corona measures.

According to the Minister, in principle, an employer cannot oblige an employee to make up for hours not worked in another month. He emphasises that employers have an obligation to continue to pay wages. This obligation is also in place if the work is not performed in whole or in part. If during the closure of the company the employees were available to carry out the work, but they could not work because of the corona measures, this is a risk that is borne by the employer. Hours not worked do not have to be made up, unless there is an exception on the grounds of the collective labour agreement (cao) or the individual employment contract.

It is up to the parties to the collective labour agreement, or employers and employees together, to agree how previously made agreements relate to the corona crisis, for example in the case of an annual hours standard. Earlier, in an administrative consultation with the management and labour representatives of employers and employees, attention was asked for this subject. If parties cannot reach an agreement, or if hours not worked have to be made up outside the agreements made, parties can take this to court.

The Minister emphasises that maintaining employment is the objective of NOW. It is a subsidy and it does not interfere with labour law. It contains no conditions about hours not worked. The Minister considers a retroactive tightening of the NOW-rules neither possible nor desirable.

Do you also have labour law questions, whether or not related to the corona crisis and/or the NOW? Ask the employment lawyers at SPEE advocaten & mediation.

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