Benefit scheme decision reversed

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The social affairs ministry has decided to extend the WW benefits program under stricter guidelines.

The Hague – Social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner announced on Wednesday that the benefits scheme known as WW would be extended, reversing an earlier announcement that the program was to be abolished.

Donner said on Monday that the scheme could not continue because the allocated budget of EUR 375 million had been spent following a recent rise in applications. Many employers were applying for benefits on behalf of the bulk of their staff, while the scheme was meant to keep only skilled workers employed, reported the ministry.

Trade unions reacted furiously to the decision to end the benefits program. The FNV – which represents the interests of 17 trade unions – expressed concern that the decision would lead to factory closures.

In order to apply for the WW program, companies have to show a decline in turnover of 30 percent or more that is directly attributable to the credit crisis. These companies are then able to cut man hours by 50 percent, reducing wage expenses. The WW program ensure that workers still receive their full salaries by paying the difference.

Donner, while bowing to union and political pressure to extend the program, has sharpened its application conditions. Under the new terms, employers can only apply for WW benefits for skilled workers.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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