Like many institutions worldwide, Het Nieuwe Instituut has had to close its doors to the public because of the Covid-19 outbreak. This drastic but necessary measure is painful for everyone we usually meet on a daily basis, but above all for our employees. While a small number of them are still working at the institute, many are now working from home, and some are not working at all. This latter category applies to our catering staff, due to the forced closure of Het Nieuwe Café. Unfortunately, some ambiguity has recently arisen about this situation, which we would like to remove.
The rumour that employees with permanent or temporary contracts with Het Nieuwe Instituut have been fired due to the Corona crisis is false. Publications that claim otherwise are incorrect. It is true that, with a heavy heart, we had to decide that we could no longer call upon the temporary staff in the café. There is simply no work for them at the moment. These on-call workers at Het Nieuwe Café are employed by an agency that specialises in the catering industry. To avoid any misunderstanding: Het Nieuwe Instituut itself is not eligible for any support from the Dutch government for these employees, but in many cases the agencies that employ temporary workers are eligible for that support. We have urged the agency in question to make use of the regulation that the government has set up for their employees.
The agency is offering its employees the minimum wage that is mandatory on the basis of existing contracts. However, the agency is not making use of the option to negotiate temporary contracts to help its employees bridge the crisis period. This decision has led us to take a critical look at our relationship with this agency. Het Nieuwe Instituut will also double the transition allowance per employee, so that any shortfall in income can be temporarily absorbed.
The decision not to call upon the café staff has not been taken lightly. We are aware of our responsibility towards them and are talking with them about their options and how we can support them in this. We continue to listen to our peers and are committed to supporting to the best of our ability anyone who has dedicated their time and effort to the Institute.
Guus Beumer and Josien Paulides
Board of Directors, Het Nieuwe Instituut
9 April 2020