Thursday 28 October 2021

Appeals court finds Helpling cleaners are temporary workers

House cleaners hired via the app Helpling are temporary workers and must be given paid sick leave and compensation if they lose their jobs, Amsterdam appeals court found on Tuesday.

But the court, however, stopped short of including them in the collective agreement for cleaners which would have treated them as permanent workers.

Trade union FNV brought the case together with a cleaner, in 2019, arguing that the app is an employer and must pay its cleaners accordingly. The app, launched in 2012, allows households looking for domestic help to search its database for cleaners.

A lower court found that the payment structure – charging a commission from the cleaner of between 23 and 32% – created an employment relationship. Both sides appealed that decision.

According to Tuesday’s ruling, Helpling is not a traditional employer. Wages are set by the household and cleaner and the instructions about the work are given by the household, not Helping. However, the contractual agreements between the London-based app and the cleaners mean that it does have some characteristics of regular employment.

The FNV says it is ‘very happy’ with the outcome but calls on politicians to do more to help gig workers.

Platforms

‘We win lawsuits and the sham constructions of so-called modern platforms are painfully exposed,’ Zakaria Boufangacha, vice president of the FNV said in a statement.

‘The only modern thing about these platforms is that they come up with all kinds of ways to undermine the rules of our labour market. It is even more painful that politicians are watching passively,’

Helpling said in an emailed statement that it is analysing the ruling.

Earlier this month, FNV won a lawsuit against Uber, when a court concluded that its drivers were, in fact, employees not self-employed.

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