Application and consequences of the Executives' Pay (Standards) Act
The aim of the Wnt is to prevent excessively high salaries in institutions within the public and semi-public sector. This Act limits the salaries of executives in public and semi-public positions to the same level as ministers’ salaries. That level will be revised every year.
To whom does the Wnt apply?
If your organisation is operating in the public or semi-public sector, you may be covered by the Wnt. Organisations in this sector include:
- national and provincial governments, municipalities and water boards;
- certain cultural, educational and care institutions;
- institutions for development cooperation and housing corporations;
- institutions subsidised by the government (specific requirements apply).
Organisations must comply with the statutory rules when setting the salaries of their executives. This provision applies both to executives who are on the payroll and to those who work as contractors. An executive is someone who sits on the highest executive or supervisory body, such as directors or members of the Supervisory Board. Members of the management team can also come under the WNT if they are responsible for the entire institution. The specialists at Mazars and Pellicaan Advocaten can help you to assess the duties of your executives and identify your risks.
A maximum salary applies, known as the ‘Wnt standard’. Different maximum salaries apply to certain sectors, so-called 'sector-specific Wnt standards'. For instance, customised standards apply to sectors such as housing corporations, educational institutions, and health and welfare institutes. Separate standards also apply to externally contracted executives. Our specialists know which standards apply to your organisation and are happy to help.
Details of executive pay must be included in the financial report. These details must include the salary, name and position of each executive. Even if an executive’s salary is not above the applicable maximum, you must make this information public. This requirement also applies to certain non-executives who receive a higher salary than the applicable maximum. Non-executives are not yet subject to the maximum amounts in the Wnt, but it must also be made public if they receive an excessively high salary.
The details in the financial report must be examined by an accountant. Because of the role to be played by accountants, guidelines have been established by the Dutch Professional Association of Accountants (Nederlandse Beroepsorganisatie voor Accountants, NBA) and the Dutch Council for Annual Reporting (Raad voor de Jaarverslaggeving, RJ). The accountant has an obligation to report non-compliance to the responsible ministry. In addition, the organisation must submit its financial report to the responsible ministry each year.
Avoid a fine
Are you paying a higher salary than permitted by law? If so, you will have to recover the excess. Failure to do so means that the government can fine you. If you still do not reclaim the excess, the government can recover the money directly from the executive without going through your organisation. To avoid this procedure, ensure that the excess is reclaimed in a timely manner.