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Coronavirus: FAQ about work, home and business

Coronavirus: FAQ about work, home and business

Coronavirus: FAQ about work, home and business

The media is dominated by so much information about the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) that it’s hard to keep track of what it means in practice. GMW lawyers gives some clear answers to frequently asked questions about coronavirus and employment, property and business according to Dutch law.

Can my employer stop me from coming to work because of coronavirus?

Yes, they can. Employers in the Netherlands have an obligation to maintain a safe workplace. With the current pandemic, companies may choose to close their physical offices to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If this happens, employers may ask employees to stay at home or work from home, according to their function.

In addition, companies have to comply with national guidance. This means that if the government mandates the closure of your industry (for example sports clubs), then the employer will have to shut their business location.

Can my employer dismiss me because of coronavirus?

No, not directly. The coronavirus does not change your rights under Dutch employment law. Your employer can only dismiss you according to the existing legal options. These are the end of a fixed-term contract (non-renewal), mutual agreement (settlement), summary dismissal (fired on the spot) or dismissal via the court / UWV (including redundancy for economic reasons).

Does coronavirus change the contractual obligations of my business?

In short, no. If your business contract is governed by Dutch law, that agreement is unchanged. If you do not meet your contractual obligations, you may be liable to pay damages.

If an event occurs that is beyond the control of the parties and prevents the contract from being performed, then it may be possible to appeal to force majeure and dissolve the contract. However, it is important to note that just because compliance is more costly or difficult because of coronavirus, does not mean it justifies invoking force majeure.

What can companies do to navigate the financial difficulties of coronavirus?

The Dutch government provides a number of measures that companies can use to survive the current economic disruption. These include debt restructuring and the SME credit guarantee scheme (BMKB), suspension of tax payments, bridging loans and temporary bridging funding to help companies pay salaries. Also, Dutch banks have opened the possibility to suspend repayments on loans.

If your company is facing serious financial trouble, take action now. A reorganisation, restructuring of obligations, (re)financing or offering a creditor’s agreement may still help to avert bankruptcy.

I have lost income due to coronavirus - can I stop paying rent on my home?

No, you cannot stop paying your rent. If you have signed a rental contract then you have a legal obligation to uphold the contract. Regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, the rights of both the tenant and the landlord remain protected according to Dutch law.

I’ve lost business due to coronavirus – can I stop paying rent on my retail / catering property?

No, you still have a contractual obligation to pay your rent, even if your business activity is reduced. Having periods of more or less work is considered part of entrepreneurial risk – not justification for breaking a rental contract. As such, the terms of your contract are unchanged.

GMW lawyers has been helping expats in the Netherlands to solve their legal problems since 1989. With lawyers who have been expats themselves, they understand the specific challenges and needs of internationals living abroad, and offer a range of legal services. If you need legal advice, please contact them by phone, email or online.

For more FAQ and all coronavirus-related news, please visit their coronavirus updates page.

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yunique4u 17:50 | 31 March 2020

It’s mentioned that companies must comply with government guidelines. What if they don’t? Can this be reported? —— I have a friend who has been getting sms’ from his manager. From the sounds of it, the manager wants business to continue. This is a taste of 2 of his sms: Serious guys Below 0.5 % off people on the IC below 50 dies And of this 0.5 % allmost all of them are fat or sick allready So yes it is a big problem Yes old people die No you will not die Yes you will get it in the next two years So better get it asap then you are done But believe me we all will get it!... So keep distance from old people and people who are ill but for the rest.. try to live your life as this will take a long time!... Stop reading shit and fake news Make the best out of it...... 2nd SMS: The Dutch healtcare system is completely different then the German or the Italian. We strive for quality of life and not the maximum length. We can think of it what we want but that’s how the Dutch organized their healthcare. That’s why we have relativlyblow numbers of ic beds because the Dutch healthcare system stops treatments way earlier then the rest of the world. I did not make this up This is how it works So yes it’s more or less like Darwin. But it’s Darwin for everyone and not only the rich and famous that are being helped.

MichelleMichelle 12:49 | 4 April 2020

"No, you still have a contractual obligation to pay your rent, even if your business activity is reduced. Having periods of more or less work is considered part of entrepreneurial risk – not justification for breaking a rental contract. As such, the terms of your contract are unchanged." What an unfair law that must be overturned! How can small business be expected to pay commercial rent (as well as home) when they can't trade? Business has been prevented from operating by a virus, so all bets should be off. Entrepreneurs, lobby MPs and council! Rent strike?