Self-employed professionals in the travel and event industry are ready: ‘I don’t want to stop, but I have to’

“I sound the alarm for self-employed persons in the travel industry,” says Carine Heijsteeg, travel advisor in Almere. Although the government pays a lot of attention to large tour operators and airline KLM, it feels that its branch, advisers who come to people’s homes to arrange and plan a trip, has been forgotten.

“We are more than a thousand independent travel consultants and we are full-time talking to customers and canceling or rebooking trips. The work continues, but there has been zero euros since March.”

Only commission when traveler is on the way

That’s because she only gets commission when the vacationer is on the plane. “We have done work to make the reservation, are now doing work to cancel or make a reservation, and we don’t earn anything for either.”

Heijsteeg is extremely grateful for the support she has received from the government over the past three months, but is no longer entitled to it as of June, due to the partner income test.

Aid for the self-employed

This is because in the first aid scheme, the TOZO 1, the income of a self-employed person who was suffering from the corona crisis was supplemented to the social minimum: a maximum of 1500 euros per month. The scheme did not consider the partner’s income.

In the second support package, the partner’s income does count. Self-employed persons will only receive support if the joint income is less than EUR 1,650 gross per month. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of self-employed persons who did fall under the first aid scheme are no longer receiving any money.

According to FNV Self-employed persons, there are 800,000 self-employed people in the Netherlands who work at least 24 hours a week. 347,000 of these benefited from the TOZO 1 scheme.

It is unclear how many self-employed persons will use the second TOZO scheme. Some are already back to work, think hairdressers and beauticians, and some will drop out because of their partner’s excessive income.

Free money does not exist

Maarten Post of the ZZP Nederland foundation is afraid that the partner income test will hinder the speed with which the support from TOZO 2 is paid out.

He disagrees with self-employed workers who consider it unfair that they receive less than employees. “If you say that the self-employed are entitled to an income while they have no activities, then you are doing the wrong thing. Free money does not exist. A WW contribution is also paid by employer and employee.”

Post wants to point out that as a self-employed person you can borrow up to 10,000 euros from the municipality for the liquidity of your company.

Self-employed persons who are going to fill courses

Ronald van den Hoff of the Werkvereniging, an organization that supports self-employed workers, fears that the Cabinet’s measures will increase the difference between employed and self-employed persons. “Self-employed people are paid far less than salaried people, while they are the backbone of the economy.”

Van den Hoff thinks that many self-employed people will take on other work in the near future and thus disappear from the radar. “I already hear people who have started filling trades. But we need more than just traders to keep the economy afloat.”

Travel advisor Heijsteeg is also looking for a side job for the coming months. “I don’t want to stop because I love this job. But if the costs run into the tens of thousands of euros, I have to.”


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