Court rules that Helpling cleaners are temporary workers

Cleaners who work via the online platform Helpling are temporary workers. This was decided by the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam on appeal. This means, among other things, that the cleaners are entitled to continued payment of wages if they are ill and if they are fired, they are entitled to a transition payment.

However, the court does not require them to be paid according to the cleaning collective agreement, because the households that hire the cleaners are the so-called ‘hirer’ who gives the instructions. The wage is determined by the cleaner and the household, and only partly by Helpling. There is therefore no question of an employment contract, but of a temporary employment contract.

Helpling is an app that allows a cleaner to be hired. They were employed under the Home Services Regulations. Under this scheme, someone is not in paid employment. The case was brought by the trade union FNV, in collaboration with a cleaner. According to the FNV, Helpling is an employer and must hire the cleaners.

Other subdistrict court judge

The case had a different outcome before the subdistrict court in 2019. The FNV then said that there was an employment relationship and that the Helpling cleaners should therefore be hired. The district court did not agree.

At the time, Helpling charged the cleaners between 23 and 32 percent commission for mediating between the households and the cleaners. According to the sub-district court, however, there was no question of employment mediation and no compensation could be requested. Both sides appealed and that ruling was today.

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The FNV has been involved in lawsuits against so-called platform economy companies for several years. These are tech companies that offer certain services with apps. They often employ their people as freelancers or through other constructions. According to the union, too little has been arranged for this group from the government and there are allegedly sham constructions.

‘Politics watch patiently’

Helpling says that the consequences of the judgment are not yet easy to foresee at the moment, because according to the company not all rules for temporary agency work can be applied one-to-one to Helpling. In the ruling, the Court says that “applying existing employment law rules to new social phenomena such as work performed via a digital platform can be difficult”. The cleaning app will analyze the ruling in the coming days before taking further steps.

Zakaria Boufangacha, Vice-President FNV, is happy with the verdict, but does not think it is enough: “Politics must enforce. It cannot be explained to the taxpayer that the Tax and Customs Administration does not enforce this type of platform companies. They simply have to pay wage tax and employee contributions. start paying. And the Labor Inspectorate must monitor the application of the correct employment relationship. It is painful that politicians are watching passively.”

Earlier this month, the FNV won a major lawsuit against taxi app Uber. The court has ordered Uber to hire its drivers immediately. At the beginning of this year, the union won an appeal against meal delivery company Deliveroo. There the statement is slightly different: couriers may be employed on a permanent basis, but they must ask for it themselves.

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