Published On: Wed, Jul 1st, 2020

Audit Chamber: cut in vacation allowance is unlawful

General Audit Chamber building - 20200604 JH

PHILIPSBURG — Not paying civil servants their full vacation allowance is unlawful, the General Audit Chamber’s chairlady ad-interim Sheryl Peterson writes in a letter to Finance Minister Ardwell Irion. However, if negotiations with the unions result in a justified cut in the vacation allowance, the Audit Chamber is prepared to accept the measure as a matter of solidarity.

The government wants to pay out only 50 percent of the 2020 vacation allowance as a part of its efforts to cut the remuneration for civil servants by 12.5 percent; this is a requirement from the Kingdom for receiving continued liquidity support.

The Audit Chamber refers to article 24 of the Regulation vacation and exemption of duty (Regeling vakantie en vrijstelling dienst). This article states that the vacation allowance is paid out once a year, in the second half of June over a period of twelve months.

“In our opinion this is a so-called compulsory rule; diverging from it is not possible,” the Audit Chamber’s ad-interim chairlady Peterson writes.

The Audit Chamber furthermore notes that it never received a national ordinance aimed at changing article 24 in a way that would provide a legal basis for cutting the vacation allowance in half.

“We understand that this is one of the conditions imposed by the kingdom for the reception of liquidity support Nevertheless, our institution stands for lawfulness and integrity. We are of the opinion that, without a legal basis, not fully paying out the 2020 vacation allowance by June 30, is unlawful.”

Peterson also refers in her letter to the motion parliament approved on May 19. Parliament accepted the conditions for liquidity support, providing that they do not violate local or kingdom laws. “Your decision, therefore, violates article 24 of the Regulation vacation and exemption of duty and it is not in line with the parliament’s motion. After all, the law requires full payment before June 30; this is a legal obligation. A possible future amendment to the national ordinance after June 30 does not mean that it is allowed to diverge from the law right now. Considering all this, we advise you to act according to current legislation.”

Former Member of Parliament Claude Peterson says in a reaction that a cut in the vacation allowance requires changing the law. “When the Dutch gave these conditions, they did not tell us how to execute them. Competent ministers would know. The Audit Chamber chastises the minister of finance and highlights his lack of competence. I trust that the unions will use the letter from the Audit Chamber to get what is owed to the civil servants.”