The Netherlands has about two million companies. Of these, approximately 65,000 fall under the heading of small and medium-sized enterprises, companies with fewer than 250 employees and more than 10. By comparison: in the Netherlands there are ‘only’ 3,300 companies that employ more than 250 people.
Focus on SMEs
SMEs are therefore an important job engine: small and medium-sized businesses together offer nearly 2 million full-time jobs to the working Netherlands. In this overview, the focus is on SMEs as an employer. To this end, we looked at the election programs of the parties that currently have an average of 10 seats or more.
Illness and discharge
An important spearhead in many party programs is to reduce the burden on employers when it comes to sick employees. Both the VVD, CDA, D66 and the PvdA want to reduce wages in the event of illness. Now an employer must continue to pay a sick employee for two more years.
- VVD only wants small employers (<25 employees) one year’s wages continue to pay.
- CDA and D66 want this for it whole SMEs.
- D66 and Labor Party propose to continue paying wages for the second year collectivize for small businesses. This means that the risk is shared with everyone.
- SP and GroenLinks keep it a bit more general support when employees are sick.
When it comes to laying off employees, parties are much less specific. The PvdA and the PVV want to maintain the protection for employees of the current dismissal law (although the PVV does limit this to the duration of the corona crisis). Government parties VVD and CDA want simpler dismissal law and simpler severance payments.
For example, the VVD wants to abolish the severance payment (officially: transition payment) if someone retires after one year of employment. Prime Minister Rutte’s party also wants to get rid of age dismissal, the compulsory dismissal of an employee who has reached the state pension age.
The tax on labor must be reduced and the tax system could be a bit simpler, is the motto in many programs. It is striking that several parties also want to reduce the energy tax for SMEs.
- The SP wants to increase the small-scale investment deduction and the energy bill for SMEs.
- GroenLinks bet on one CO2 tax, on top of the European levy that already applies. The tax benefits of lease driving must come to an end. The business succession scheme must be reformedso that people pay taxes when they inherit a company.
- The VVD is strongly against the latter point. The ruling party wants one middle class discount to reduce employer costs in SMEs. The energy tax for SMEs must also be reduced and the work-related costs scheme just widened.
- Both VVD and CDA want extra hands at the desk at the tax authorities, especially for SMEs.
- PVV does not want tax increases, but does want a reduction in energy tax.
- D66 keeps it up one simpler tax system, with a minimum rate for the profit tax.
Who will pay for that?
All well and good: these (and below) plans must of course be funded in one way or another. And even though most election programs have more than 100 pages, there is very little to be found about that funding.
However, a number of parties have submitted their plans to the Central Planning Bureau (CPB) for a calculation. These plans show that almost all parties also want to raise (a lot of) money from the business community, as can be seen below.
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Small and medium-sized businesses can currently borrow money and / or raise investments in various ways. The VVD in particular is strongly committed to expanding these options and lists the most concrete measures for this.
For example, the VVD wants to lift the ban on pledging and expand the guarantee scheme for SME loans. The party wants to offer more guarantees for non-bank financing and continue to work on the capital markets union, so that entrepreneurs can also obtain financing from other countries in the EU.
- CDA: the investment funds InvestNL and InvestInternational are opened up to small and medium-sized businesses.
- D66: incentive funds should become more easily accessible for SMEs.
- SP: Establishment of a national investment bank.
- Labor Party: More credit opportunities in corona time, billion dollar corona rescue fund to make the economy fairer and more sustainable.
Each party also has ideas about how to implement entrepreneurship. These ideas cannot always be classified under one heading, but they are good to keep in mind. That is why below an overview per party with (striking) proposals that affect SMEs.
Not only the government, but also SMEs must be at the forefront as a creditor in, for example, bankruptcies. Women and men must be paid equally, the starting point for employment contracts is a (permanent) employment contract. Professional competence requirements for taxi drivers, for example, must be laid down in law. An employer is obliged to provide additional training for his employees and to guide them to new work in the event of dismissal.
Tenders from the government, among others, must be made ‘SME-friendly’, so that these parties can also compete. SMEs who rent a property must receive rent protection for this. With a new wage agreement, the party wants to eliminate the wage arrears of employees.
GroenLinks also wants SME-friendly tenders from the government. European cooperation in the border regions must become easier. Local entrepreneurs participating in an energy cooperative should get cheaper loans. Pledge tenants must be protected against sharp rent increases.
Employers must pay more contributions for temporary contracts and be given more scope for permanent contracts. Only independent trade unions may conclude a collective labor agreement with the employer; works councils no longer.
It must become more attractive for employers to hire people. Employers with more than 25 employees must certify according to the Icelandic model for ‘equal pay for equal work’. There must be a wage cost subsidy for ‘basic jobs’, for people who cannot do regular work. Employers’ premiums for the lowest incomes must be reduced.
The party wants to halve the legal payment term to SMEs (from 60 to 30 days). Small businesses still need temporary exemptions after the corona crisis. The interests of SMEs as a creditor must be better represented. Female entrepreneurship must be encouraged. An employer should receive a bonus for the first employee he or she hires.
The CDA wants to establish a minister of entrepreneurship.
The government should pay bills to entrepreneurs earlier, according to the VVD. Entrepreneurs who unexpectedly end up on social assistance benefits must be exempt from the assets test for the first year. Entrepreneurs must have more control over their opening hours, which is why the VVD wants to modernize the current Shopping Hours Act.
The VVD wants to expand sustainability schemes for entrepreneurs, such as the Energy Investment Allowance and the Investment Subsidy for Renewable Energy. The work-related costs scheme should be simplified and broadened, the VVD believes.