Emergency relief package for BES-islands - due to the COVID-19 crisis

Apr 9, 2020
Thursday, April 9, 2020

Emergency relief package for BES-islands


On March 31, 2020 the Dutch State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labour announced an emergency relief package for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (“BES-islands”), to minimize loss of jobs and to support employers, self-employed persons and former employees who suffer loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The package provides relief in three different categories:

  1. employers;
  2. self-employed persons (sole proprietorships);
  3. former employees.

For the preliminary period of 3 months (March 13th until June 12th), qualifying parties are entitled to a subsidy package by filing a request form. This memo discusses in general terms the key points of the packages.




  • The employer, as defined in the Wet ziekteverzekering BES (“ZV BES”) has been confronted with a decline in revenue of at least 20% over the period of March 13th 2020 until June 12th 2020;
  • the decline is due to the coronavirus pandemic or the regulations relating to this pandemic; and
  • the employer has been forced to reduce working hours of his or her employees (related to the loss of revenue).


The subsidy for employers consists of:

  • the wages for the hours which an employee has worked less due to the pandemic;
  • with a maximum of 80% of the maximized daily wages per employee pursuant to the ZV BES.

The wages of employees with a temporary contract or a ‘zero-hour contract’ (in Dutch: nulurencontract) may be included in the request for subsidy. In those cases, the daily wage is determined based on the average of workhours per week in the period of 13 preceding weeks. Note that the subsidy may not be requested for employees for whom the employer already receives sickness or accident benefits.


Self-employed persons


  • A self-employed person as defined in the regulation has suffered a loss of work and therefore loss of income over the period of March 13th until June 12th;
  • the loss incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic or the regulations relating to this pandemic; and
  • his total personal income[1] is less than:
  • USD 761 per month for Bonaire;
  • USD 919 per month for Sint Eustatius; or
  • USD 907 per month for Saba.


The amount of the monthly subsidy is equal to the aforementioned amounts, minus the actual total monthly income of the person (if this is lower).


Former employees


  • A former employee that has been confronted with the loss of his job in the period of March 13th 2020 until June 12th 2020, and;
  • this loss is due to the coronavirus pandemic or the regulations relating to this pandemic.

The loss of a job in this respect includes dismissal, failure to renew a temporary contract, or any similar situation. Former employees working under a zero-hour contract qualify for this subsidy as well.


The subsidy for former employees shall consist of 80% of the last-earned wages, with a maximum of 80% of the maximized daily wages conform the ZV BES. This does not include the situation in which employer and/or employee aim to abuse these regulations by, in one way or another, requesting double subsidy.


 General notes and requirements

  •  An important object of this relief package is to minimize the loss of jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Requests for the dismissal of employees on economic grounds (due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic or the regulations relating to this pandemic) shall therefore not be approved by the minister while this regulation is in effect.
  • Once the subsidy request has been approved, the subsidy will be paid out after the end of each month.
  • From the moment of requesting the subsidy, the requesting party is obliged to meet multiple requirements such as keeping a verifiable record of certain data and notifying the Dutch Minister of any relevant change of circumstances. For a complete overview of the obligations, please contact us.
  • The government of Bonaire has noted that certain branches may fall outside the scope of this regulation. To accommodate these branches, Bonaire shall instate an additional (local and temporary) subsidy regulation.


For further information, please contact:

Maarten Tervoort, tax adviser, tervoort@bakertillysxm.com

Arthur van Aalst, tax attorney, vanaalst@bakertillycuracao.com


[1] Any personal income should be taken into account, except received child benefits based on the ‘Wet kinderbijslagvoorsziening BES’. Assets and partner income are not relevant in this respect.

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