by Michel Klompmaker
Last month, the UWV1 published the full list of all companies that have made use of the Temporary Emergency Measure Bridging for Employment in the Netherlands, better known as the NOW scheme. It has become something more than a list, a complete register with more than 2,000 pages! Really for the enthusiasts, because it states exactly which companies have used it, their location and what the advance payment has been. Did you find the hourly rate charged to your company by your law firm and / or notary office to be disproportionately high? Then take a look at the register to see whether they had the guts to have made use of the NOW scheme (perhaps, in your opinion, previously misused).
There has been some controversy about the possible abuse of this scheme for quite some time and that is why the company Booking.com sprung into view. According to the register, the NOW scheme was used for more than 74 million euros by this company, which is certainly not known as poor. Please check the annual reports. But big operating law firms have also made use of the scheme, as have some notary offices. A very small company in the province also made use of the scheme for exactly 537 euros. At first glance, that seems to be in order and the chance of abuse is not so great in the latter case.
Naming and shaming
Be sure to look for yourself and look for your “favourite” company, which you know management doesn’t care about ethical leadership when it comes to their own interests. In the meantime, some Managing Partners of companies that are registered in the register have already indicated that, in retrospect, they do not need the amount…. So “naming and shaming” does seem to work. Of course, it would have been better, even afterwards, to set much stricter rules with regard to the capital position of the companies and to set limits on the level of salary. It is incomprehensible that the Tax Authorities are not involved in this. It is notably tax money and it is paid in good faith. But yes, the tax authorities there have their own problems.
Meanwhile, unemployment figures rise sharply after the expiry of the first NOW scheme. Wondering if there are any criminal investigations in this regard as a result of the abuses surrounding the NOW scheme. The Public Prosecution Service will probably again get the standard wording out of the closet, something like that “because of the many declarations that we have to deal with and where choices have to be made in the way in which the limited capacity should be used, it has been decided to not to investigate your declaration ”…. and so white-collar crime in the Netherlands can go to sleep peacefully.
* (1) UWV (Employee Insurance Agency) is an autonomous administrative authority (ZBO) and is commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) to implement employee insurances and provide labour market and data services.
Cartoon: Courtesy of Muel Kaptein