Coronacrisis: important issues for transport & logistics

CPB recently published positive figures on economic growth in 2020. This is normally good news for companies in the Transport & Logistics sector. However, the coronavirus is currently throwing a spanner in the works. What consequences does the coronavirus have for your transport company and what are the points of attention for you as an entrepreneur to get through the coronacrisis?

FREIGHT TRAFFIC FROM AND TO INFECTED AREAS

The movement of goods to and from China is slowly starting to pick up again. It is expected that the logistics in China will not be fully in order until the summer. The supply and purchase contracts of your business continue as usual, however. It is therefore important to check the general terms and conditions for provisions relating to liability and force majeure situations. Who bears the risk for late or cancelled deliveries and purchases? Under what conditions can force majeure be invoked? In addition to the legal side of the contracts, it is always wise to inform your customers about the expected delay in good time. This avoids unpleasant discussions afterwards.

For future contracts or renewals of contracts (if adaptation of the conditions is possible) is advisable to take into account the influence of unforeseen circumstances such as the coronavirus. You can include a force majeure clause and cost-sharing provisions.

In addition, your own staff may travel to or from infected areas. As an employer, you have an obligation to create a safe working environment for your employees. It will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis whether and which (appropriate) measures need to be taken. For example, a ban on entry and exit to various countries within Europe must be taken into account.

LESS WORK AND NOODFONDS OVERBRUGGING WERKGELEGENHEID (NOW; EMERGENCY EMPLOYMENT BRIDGING FUND)

As an employer, you may have less work for your employees because, for example, the supply of products stagnates. It depends on the employment contracts and the conditions included in them whether you can send your employees home if there is no work or less work.

As announced in the press conference of 17 March 2020, it is no longer possible to submit new applications for the reduction of working hours. Due to the number of applications received by the government, it was decided to introduce a new temporary measure, in other words the "Emergency Employment Bridging Fund (NOW)" . The way in which an application for this scheme must be made is still subject to consultation with the UWV and the government. 

The main features of this scheme are as follows:

  • The applicant expects at least 20% loss of turnover;
  • With the application, the employer commits himself in advance to the obligation not to apply for dismissal for his employees for commercial reasons during the period for which the compensation is received;
  • The application is valid for a period of three months, which may be extended once for a further three months (further conditions may be attached to the extension);
  • The scheme relates to decreases in turnover as from 1 March 2020;
  • The employer pays the wages to the employee and receives a compensation for the wage costs; the amount depends on the drop in turnover and is a maximum of 90% of the wage bill. Below are a few examples of how the relationship between the decrease in turnover and the level of compensation works out:
    • If 100% of the turnover is lost, the compensation amounts to 90% of the wage bill of an employer;
    • If 50% of the turnover is lost, the compensation amounts to 45% of the wage bill of an employer;
    • If 25% of the turnover is lost, the compensation amounts to 22.5% of the employer's wage bill;
    • On the basis of your application, the UWV will provide an advance payment equal to 80% of the expected compensation;
    • The actual decrease in turnover is subsequently determined;
    • An auditor's report is required for applications over and above an amount to be determined later;
    • The final determination of the compensation is subject to an adjustment where there has been a reduction in the wage bill (this may lead to the obligation to reimburse);

One of the most important conditions for the NOW applications is that, as an employer, you may not apply for dismissal on commercial grounds for employees during the period that you receive the compensation from the UWV. In addition, in principle you will receive compensation from the UWV for three months; this period can be extended once by three months. Our (payroll) specialists can, of course, tell you more about the exact requirements for the NOW. As soon as it is known how the applications can be submitted, we will of course be able to assist you with that, as well.

FISCAL AND FINANCIAL MEASURES

Because of the current situation, there is a chance that your business will see a significant reduction in the number of orders. However, this probably also applies to your customers. It is therefore especially important to focus more on invoicing your services and collecting outstanding accounts receivable from your debtors.

The Cabinet has taken a number of measures to protect and compensate employers. Important examples include:

  • Extraordinary deferral of payment of income tax, corporate income, sales tax and wage tax using a simplified procedure;
  • Cancellation or reversal of default penalties for failure to pay taxes on time;
  • Temporary reduction of the collection and tax interest rate to 0.01%;
  • Government guarantees for loans for companies in trouble because of the coronavirus;

If you, as an entrepreneur, expect that the profit for 2020 will be lower due to the coronavirus outbreak, it may be wise to adjust your provisional assessment for 2020 downwards. By changing your provisional assessment, you ensure that you immediately pay less tax.

INTERNAL MEASURES

In addition to the external possibilities, it is, of course, also important to look at what can and must be done within the company. Of course, cost awareness will have to be raised and it will have to be investigated which contracts could possibly be scaled down. Above all, however, it is also important to get a good picture of the current financial situation in the short term and to pay extra attention to liquidity planning, taking into account different scenarios. This information is important in order to be able to determine the right steps and is often also necessary in order to be able to claim facilities from the government and/or the bank.

Once the most important emergency measures have been taken, it is then important to look ahead strategically quickly. Should there perhaps be a change of course?

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Additional measures will most likely follow, of which we will of course keep you informed. Would you like to know more about what the coronavirus means for the continuity of your business? Or would you like advice on the measures you need to take or help with applying for government facilities? Please contact Remco Schoonderwoerd, Partner and Sector Leader Transport & Logistics, by e-mail or by phone: +31 (0)88 277 16 45 or Joost Grieving via e-mail or by phone: +31 (0)88 277 18 71. They would be happy to assist you.