October 20, 2020


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Tens of millions of support for employment agencies, retail chains and public transport companies

Tens of millions of support for employment agencies, retail chains and public transport companies

In addition to KLM, Booking and the NS, there are a remarkable number of temporary employment agencies in the list of the 100 largest recipients of NOW wage support. In the first months of the Corona crisis, many large retail chains and regional transport companies also received millions of euros in aid to pay their employees.

Fifteen of the 100 companies that have received the most support from the NOW programme are payroll companies, employment agencies or secondaries. Tempo Team, EV Tilburg, Randstad and Hummingbird Payrolling received more than 10 million euros in support, the UWV announced on Friday. A day earlier, Minister Koolmees had described this as a conspicuous sector in a letter from the Board on the programme.

The ministry declined to comment on why the minister found the sector so conspicuous, but it is advisable that the expectation was that temporary employment agencies would lay off the forces that they could no longer broadcast en masse.


The use of the aid seems to indicate that this has not happened. Koolmees writes in his letter that about 400,000 temporary workers are paid through the NOW system.

It is not entirely surprising that more than 2600 temporary employment agencies have benefited from the scheme. In April, the trade association NBBU called on its members not to dismiss the temporary workers they employ.

“In this way, companies have helped many people, but also themselves,” says NBBU Director Marco Bastian. “Six months ago there was still a major shortage in the labour market. It is important to bind people to you at the moment when the economy attracts. Especially when you work with specialists, you don’t want to lose them.”

However, it is possible that temporary employment agencies are slowly abandoning their powers. Randstad said in June that he would not claim the second round of the NOW program. The FD wrote about it About 10,000 workers for which no new customer has been found are unemployment.

Public transport companies pay back

There are also many regional public transport companies among the largest NOW recipients. In Amsterdam, for example, the CFP received more than EUR 20 million in aid, Connexxion almost EUR 9 million and Q-buzz, Keolis, Arriva, ret, which is based in Rotterdam, and HTM in The Hague also received several million euros.

Like the NS, these companies applied months ago. However, as there is now a separate regime for public transport companies, airlines will no longer be able to use the NOW. The millions they have already received must therefore be repaid to the state government.

Dealers made the most requests

More than 25,000 traders knocked on the door of the NOW counter. Retail was thus the sector with the most applications. There were also big chains. Primark is the retailer that received the most wage subsidies with 13 million euros. In addition, HEMA, H&M and Bijenkorf raised around ten million to pay their employees.

In the hospitality sector, there were slightly fewer applications. But the catering companies that applied were hardest hit. On average, sales in March, April and May were 80 percent below normal.

Quarter of money to Amsterdam

The catering establishments in Amsterdam are the hardest hit. In fact, the loss of sales was 85 percent. Other sectors in Amsterdam also appear to be relatively hard hit. Businesses in the Amsterdam metropolitan area have received almost a quarter of all wage subsidies. In total, the more than 16,000 companies in the region received around €630 million in aid.

This is much more than in other regions. For example, companies from the Rijnmond region, to which Rotterdam belongs, received only about 7 percent (175 million euros) of NOW funding.

Other labour market regions where companies received relatively high levels of support were the region around the city of Utrecht and the region around Gorinchem. In Groningen, the head of North Holland and Friesland, the companies received the lowest average support.

In this interactive map, you can see how much has been awarded NOW in a ward: