Include students explicitly in emergency measures for coronavirus

News - Tuesday 24 March 2020

March 19th, 2020 – The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and FNV Young & United are very worried about the financial position of students following the coronacrisis. Due to the current loan system, students are – now more than ever – financially dependent on their (part-time) jobs. Often, these jobs are based on a flexible contract without guarantee of employment and income. Employers can appeal to the emergency fund, also for this group of employees. 

The unions call on the employers to make sure that students have access to the emergency measures that have been taken, and call on students to report their story.  

No work, no pay

Students report that many employers no longer provide work, and also no longer feel obliged to continue to pay average wage.  All the while, these employers can appeal to the emergency fund in order to get 90% of their employees’ wage costs reimbursed. 

Bas van Weegberg, chair of FNV Young & United: ‘Students are often employed under a very precarious contract, but usually have a more or less fixed number of hours of work and hence income that they are counting on. There are supportive regulations for employees, employers, and even for those that are self-employed. That is exceptional. The Cabinet, employers and labour unions have agreed to work together to cushion the effects of the coronacrisis. Let’s make sure that this truly applies to all employees, including students.’ 

Alex Tess Rutten, chair of LSVb: ‘Students continue to have to pay their rent and tuition fees, as well as groceries. We cannot allow that students, following the coronacrisis, have to suffer additional financial repercussions and take out even greater loans.’  

The ball is in the employer’s court

The LSVb and FNV Young & United explicitly call on employers to ensure that students and their flexible employment contracts can also rely on continuation of their average income via the emergency fund. The current emergency legislation counts on employers to ensure that flex workers, such as students, can stay employed and that compensation is requested on their behalf. Van Weegberg: ‘We notice that employers often mobilise flexible contracts for a long period of time in order to maintain a flexible shell around work that is structural. In a crisis situation, it is often this type of employee that is disregarded first. That is unacceptable. On top of that, it is often youth and students that are disadvantaged: almost 70% of the 18 to 25-year-olds have precarious employment contracts without guaranteed fixed hours.’ 

Student hotline

At www.nietmijnschuld.nl/corona, students can find questions and advice regarding their rights in light of the coronacrisis. The message is a part of the ongoing campaign #NietMijnSchuld (#NotMyDebt), in which the LSVb and FNV Young & United, together with many local student organisations, are advocating for the cancellation of the current loan system and the reintroduction of the basic grant. Such a basic grant would help to ensure that students are less dependent on their (part-time) job.

For more information on what the ongoing pandemic means for higher education, please visit https://dutchstudentunion.nl/coronavirus/ 


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