This is what Hans Oeloff, director of HR, and Erna Leurink, deputy chair of OPUT (University of Twente Personnel Consultative Body), tell us. According to them, there is a big difference between universities and universities of applied sciences when it comes to allowances. One university, for example, pays a net amount of 25 euros per month for internet costs, while another university pays double that amount.
'It is therefore a good thing that the reimbursement is now being examined at the national level. The calculations are now in place to facilitate working from home as well as possible. Within those guidelines, all permanent UT employees will receive an Internet allowance retroactively,' says Oeloff.
The HR director emphasizes that there are some conditions attached to this promise. 'That compensation will be around 25 euros nationwide. We will probably be slightly above that. The allowance will only apply as long as we are obliged to work from home, for now until 1 September. If it takes longer, we will review the compensation. We will pay retroactively to January 1, 2021.' If it had been up to Leurink, the compensation would have been extended to the start of the first lockdown. 'But then you're talking about such a long period. Then you go back to April 2020 and then it becomes difficult to get the compensation. What's more, the costs would then be even higher.'
Leurink stresses, by the way, that the mere numbers on allowances conceal another important issue. Namely the facilities provided by the employer to facilitate working from home in a healthy way. 'In the beginning there were comments about the way in which good conditions were provided for working from home, but after a slow start this then started to run smoothly. Via an ordering portal, everyone can choose exactly what they need to set up their home office properly. Whether it was an office chair or a laptop stand.'
So while employees can look forward to compensation in several months, they still have to be patient. Oeloff explains why the compensation will have to wait for a while. 'First of all, calculations were made nationwide and you saw that there are many differences between them. You could not compare the institutions with each other. To get a good picture of the reimbursements, guidelines were made. We are in consultation with the regional tax authorities. They are now looking at the rates from a fiscal point of view, and that takes time. It is therefore good that we are already creating clarity.'
Not all employees can work from home during the pandemic. To accommodate these people, they can also have their mileage reimbursements reimbursed retroactively.
With the promised compensation in prospect, the allowances have been removed from the Optional Model for Employment Conditions for now, Oeloff indicates. Also because not every employee can use this model. Once the corona measures no longer apply, these choices will return to the optional model.