COVID-19: Long Term Impact Coronavirus - HR Guide
What Employers Should Consider For Effective Contingency Planning
COVID-19 is now a top priority for any business in The Netherlands. Please make sure to stay up to date with daily updates published here: COVID-19 Coronavirus Netherlands – Employers Guide.
In this article, we will dive into the potential long-term impacts and effective contingency planning for HR in regard to the Coronavirus.
Task force Health & Safety
It is important to consider setting up a dedicated task force, reporting to senior management, to take responsibility for assessing and managing the potential impact of COVID-19 and secure the relevant governments steps are being followed. In this taskforce make sure support functions are present e.g. HR, IT, Procurement and Facilities.
Make sure to have a business continuity plan in place, to make sure employees can work from home and take into account the employers responsibility on health & safety and security.
Policies & Procedures
Consider to have the following policies and procedures in place:
- Sick Leave Regulation/ Protocol;
- Working From Home (WFH) Policy;
- Policies prohibiting or limiting business travel/ travel ban;
- Communication procedures on alternative communication channels (telephone and video-conferencing);
- Have back-up arrangements in case employees responsible for health and safety are unable to perform their roles;
- Make sure to inform/consult with health and safety representatives and works councils/trade unions in relation to the measures being taken;
- Be compliant with GDPR/privacy legislation in relation to medical data of employees.
Manage operational risks
Evaluate the potential on the risk running the operations remotely.
- Check the impact on insurances such as WIA, WGA or long term sick leave insurances;
- Make notifications where applicable and comply strictly with obligations in relation to how and when to notify insurance providers;.
- Make sure it is possible to comply with salary payments. Is payroll able to process and work remotely?
- What is the impact on HR and IT operational activities depending on IT and HR systems on site and working remotely.
- Consider to have in place an electronic signing tool, to avoid issues on printing and signing while working remotely.
- Make sure to inform all employees consistently including employees seconded or working on the premises of clients.
- Identify financial impact on HR such as hiring costs, employee benefits, employee insurances, bonus pay out or other.
- Carefully look at the scenario of potential reorganisation/restructuring.
Dutch Government support for companies
- NOW: On March 17, a new temporary measure Employment Bridging Emergency Fund NOW (Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid) is set in place to provide financial support for employers to help pay their employees’ wages. Read the article on COVID-19: Coronavirus – Emergency Fund NOW replaces Working Time Reduction [werktijdverkorting]
- Tax: All companies including Self-employed persons [ZZP-er] can request now to the Tax authorities special deferral of payment in regard to income tax, corporate tax, sales tax and loan/wage tax. Please find the link to the Tax Authority website – information only available in Dutch.
- BMKB: From 16 March 2020 to 1 April 2021, the SME credit guarantee (BMKB) scheme will be extended to help SMEs that are affected by the coronavirus secure bank guarantees and bridge financing. Entrepreneurs in the hotel, cafe or travel industry, for example, who experience problems because customers stay at home or if the business has to close temporarily, could be borrow money.
- GO: The Business loan guarantee scheme (GO) is extended.
- Noodloket: There will be an emergency counter for food and beverage outlets, cinemas, hair and beauty care (including hairdressers, pedicures, make-up artists), travel agency and tour operators, driving school owners, saunas, swimming pools, fitness centers, sports clubs and sporting events and certain private cultural institutions such as museums, circus, theaters, theaters and music schools. The government will provide those companies one time payment of EUR 4000. Applications start March 27 until June 26, 2020. More information: rvo.nl/tegemoetkomingcorona
- Qcredits: Entrepreneurs who have a loan from microcredit provider Qredits do not have to repay their loan for a period of 6 months. During this period, the interest will be reduced to 2%. The Dutch Government supports Qredits with 6 million euros.
- ToZo: Self-employed persons [ZZp-er] cannot rely on the working scheme because they do not employ staff. Self-employed persons who run into problems due to the coronavirus outbreak can appeal to the Bbz (Decree on assistance for self-employed persons 2004/Besluit bijstandverlening zelfstandigen) if they meet the conditions for this scheme. In addition, announced on March 17, there will be additional compensation for 3 months. Read more in this article on the Dutch Government website.
- SET: Healthcare organisations that want to offer their clients eHealth solutions (such as video calls) and need to invest in apps, software or hardware, can apply for a subsidy under the extended Incentive scheme eHealth at Home (SET).
- BL: For agricultural entrepreneurs, there is the Credit Guarantee scheme for Agriculture (BL).
Stay up to date – Manage the impact on the workforce
Ensure that the team leading the taskforce/communication is up to date with the Coronavirus situation. It’s hard for employers and employees to know what to do or what they are expected to do as the situation changes daily. There are also many other questions to be considered, such as what are an employer’s compliance obligations, and how leave, benefit and sick policies apply. Read COVID-19 Coronavirus Netherlands – Employers Guide. Comply with current legal obligations and government guidance in The Netherlands.
For more questions, speak to our HR Specialists.