The Amsterdam Court of Appeal has concluded that cleaners who are contracted to work in private homes via the online platform Helpling have the legal status of agency work employees. This decision comes shortly after the same court ruled that Uber drivers are employees (for further details, please see "Dutch court determines that Uber drivers are employees").
Therefore, Helpling cleaners are entitled to rights including continued wages from Helpling in the event of illness and transition (redundancy) payments if their employment is terminated. This decision aligns with the status of other temporary workers, who are similarly classed as employees.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal came to this conclusion during proceedings against Helpling that had been initiated by the Trade Union Confederation (FNV) and a cleaner. The Court considered that the contractual relationship between Helpling and a cleaner requires the contracting household to pay via a payment platform that is operated by Helpling. This allows households to contract another cleaner via Helpling should the original one be unfit to work due to illness.
The relationship between the household and the cleaner is also considered as contractual, as the household can select the cleaner it wants; however, the Court did not consider that such a circumstance was as significant as the employment relationship between Helpling and the cleaner.
A point that the Court did consider significant, however, was the intrusive nature of the app that Helpling uses to regulate work. This intrusiveness was also significant in its decision on the status of Uber drivers.
But unlike in Uber, the Court ruled that the contractual relationship between Helpling and the cleaners is not an ordinary employment contract, but an agency work employment contract. This is because when a household hires a cleaner, it is the household that determines the instructions for the cleaner's work, rather than Helpling. In addition, the remuneration that the cleaner receives from the contracting household is mainly determined between the household and the cleaner; Helpling has a limited role in this regard.
Helpling prescribes that it must provide the platform where the household makes its payment to the cleaner. In addition to making a payment to the cleaner, the household also pays commission to Helpling. Due to the fact that there is a temporary employment contract with Helpling, the household hires the cleaner, but no employment contract exists between the household and the cleaner.
The Court's ruling has important implications for Helpling and all similar platform work providers. As Helpling is regarded as an employment agency, it will not have to apply the cleaning collective labour agreement, but the agency work collective agreement will apply and has been declared as generally binding. Helpling will also have to provide a pension provision and comply with public law regulations (European and national) that regulate posted workers. Furthermore, dismissing cleaners will not be a simple process because the protective dismissal law is now applicable. Finally, Helpling will have to pay social security contributions and wage tax. However, the Court ruled that Helpling does not have to repay all the commission that it deducted in the past.
For further information on this topic please contact Ronald Beltzer at Maes Law by telephone (+31 85 902 12 70) or email ([email protected]). The Maes Law website can be accessed at www.maeslaw.nl.