A step-by-step guide to the unemployment benefit (WW-uitkering)
A step-by-step guide to the unemployment benefit (WW-uitkering)
Unemployment is a situation that nobody wishes to be in. It brings bad feelings, anxiety and stress. It can, however, happen to anybody. What then?
Looking on the bright side of life and setting up a strategy on how to get re-employed as soon as possible are the first things to do. However, it is also wise to know beforehand what to do in order to "secure" yourself (financially speaking) until you come across a new job or if things don’t go according to plan.
The unemployment benefit (WW-uitkering) could work as a cushion while you are looking for something else. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to determine whether you are entitled to receive the unemployment benefit and how to apply for it.
Before continuing, bear in mind that the situations referred to here are restricted to when your contract at work is not extended or you are fired.
Step 1: Learn about the unemployment benefit
Obtaining benefits is a systematic process, so it is best to ensure you know all the answers before making the application.
Am I entitled to the unemployment benefit?
Whether you are entitled to the WW-uitkering depends on whether you:
› Are insured for unemployment
› Have lost part of your working hours
› Are immediately available for a paid job
› Worked at least 26 weeks out of the last 36 before you became unemployed (known as de wekeneis)
› Became unemployed through no fault of your own.
How long does the unemployment benefit last?
An unemployment benefit can last anywhere from three to 38 months, depending on your circumstances. You will receive the minimum or basic three months (basisuitkering) if you fulfil the above-mentioned prerequisite of the 26 weeks (de wekeneis). It may be longer depending on how long you have been employed.
If you worked four years out of the last five before you were made redundant (known as de jareneis), then your unemployment benefit can be extended. In this case, your unemployment benefit will last for as many months as your years of employment. For example, seven years of work means that you will receive the benefit for seven months.
Useful tip: Your working years in another country might also count (they certainly do for EU citizens or those who previously worked in an EU country). Of course, you will need to prove that with adequate documentation. After which, UWV will contact the respective services (social insurance institution or public employment service) of the country you worked in and ask them to send them back a U1 form (statement of insurance periods to be taken into account when calculating an unemployment benefit).
That procedure might take quite a long time, so it could be wise to push both parties in order to get the job done within a reasonable period.
How much is the unemployment benefit?
The unemployment benefit is calculated as 75 per cent of your daily wage for the first two months and 70 per cent from the third month on. This is estimated on a gross basis.
Be informed about your rights & obligations
To ensure the success of your process, you will need to be aware of the applicable rights and obligations.
- Obligations with the unemployment benefit:
› Ensure all the information you give them about yourself and your situation is right.
› Inform them about any changes in your current situation, including when you start working, any holidays you take, volunteer work you do and when are sick.
› Apply for suitable jobs.
› Accept and keep suitable work, which means trying to avoid becoming unemployed.
› Stay subscribed as a job seeker.
› Complete your tasks in your "werkmap."
› Make sure your proof of identity is valid.
› Go to an appointment with the UWV.
› Work together with them on research.
› File the documents of your unemployment benefit.
- Rights with the unemployment benefit:
› You are permitted to have access to your personal details.
› You may bring someone with you to a personal appointment.
› You have a right to privacy.
› You can receive compensation for your travel costs.
Step 2: Subscribe yourself as a jobseeker at UWV
You can subscribe as a jobseeker at UWV’s website. From there you will be re-directed to www.werk.nl.
To go further you will need a DigiD which, if you don’t already have one, you can request from www.digid.nl. It can take up to five working days to receive the letter that allows you to activate your DigiD.
Important: You only have two days to subscribe yourself as a jobseeker at UWV after your last working day. You can, of course, do this before your last working day.
Step 3: Request your unemployment benefit
The process for requesting your unemployment benefit is the same as for subscribing yourself as a jobseeker.
Important: You have seven days to request the unemployment benefit after your last working day.
Step 4: Waiting for UWV’s reaction
If you apply online for your unemployment benefit, you will receive a confirmation email that your request was received. Within a week from then, you will receive a letter telling you whether your request is complete or not (in the second case, you will probably have to hand in additional documents or information).
If your request is complete, then after four weeks you should receive a letter saying whether you are entitled to receive the benefit, for how long and how much the benefit is. You will also receive the first payment in your bank account at this time. From then on, you will receive a payment every four weeks.
Step 5: Be active while you are on the unemployment benefit
It’s not really a choice, it’s an obligation. Being active mainly means that you are obliged to keep on trying to find a job (which UWV checks, as is explained further down). You also have to inform UWV as soon as possible concerning any changes that occur regarding your situation, as they could influence the status of your benefit.
Werk.nl: Hows & Whys
In order to be able to use werk.nl you need to have a DigiD. No access is possible without one (see above for the process).
Werk.nl is used when you first subscribe as a jobseeker. You also use this site to request the unemployment (WW-uitkering) or any other kind of benefit.
You can also upload and activate your CV on Werk.nl, and use your personal "workmap" (mijn werkmap). Mijn werkmap is quite important, as this is how you prove to UWV and its work advisors that you are actively job hunting. Remember, this is one of if not the most important obligation you have while receiving the unemployment benefit. If you don’t follow the rules, UWV is entitled to decrease or stop your benefit, or even fine you.
How to use mijn werkmap
You use mijn werkmap to keep records of your tasks and job applications for UWV to check. It is important to keep in mind that the total period of your unemployment is divided into smaller (one-month) periods, for each of which you need to present at least four activities, either job applications or related activities.
Mijn werkmap is also used to access to UWV’s job vacancy database and to react to job ads. You can use the site to communicate online with UWV’s work advisors and there are also training programmes that can be followed online.
Finally, you can store documents relating to your unemployment benefit and keep records of your networking.
UWV says the purpose of its digital services’ development is to involve jobseekers as much as possible in finding a job. The saying "looking for a job is a full-time job" is well known, and UWV and its public employment service definitely try to apply it. And for a good purpose, in fact.
The previous article in this series discussed what you need to know about Dutch social security agency UWV.