According to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, cleaners who work via the online platform Helpling must be treated as temporary workers.

In doing so, the court is contradicting an earlier decision by a judge.

This means that the cleaners are entitled to continued payment of wages if they are ill.

Helpling is an app that allows consumers to hire a cleaner.

The company regards the cleaners as independent entrepreneurs.

The FNV trade union, together with a cleaner, filed a lawsuit because they believe that Helpling is an employer and therefore not just a platform for finding cleaning jobs.

The court partly agreed with the reasoning of the union and the cleaners.

For example, cleaners are bound by contractual agreements with Helpling, such as that households may only pay via a platform designated by the app.

As a result, they cannot be regarded as self-employed.

According to the professional judge, however, this is not an ordinary employment contract, but temporary work.

For example, households give the cleaning instructions and not Helpling.

As temporary workers, cleaners who work through Helpling are also entitled to a transition payment if they are fired.

But they do not have to be paid according to the cleaning collective agreement, according to the court.

'Political action against bogus self-employment needed'

In 2019, the subdistrict court ruled that Helpling did not have to treat the cleaners as employees.

In that lawsuit, the judge put an end to another practice that FNV opposed: Helpling asked the cleaners for commissions for the jobs they received via the app, but the judge no longer allowed that.

FNV is pleased with the ruling, but believes that politicians should do more against sham constructions.

"It is impossible to explain 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," says Zakaria Boufangacha, vice president of FNV.

The union is engaged in a broader legal battle against companies in the so-called platform economy, i.e. apps that arrange jobs for freelancers.

Earlier this month, the union won a victory over taxi app Uber, which, according to the judge, must hire drivers.

Helpling says it is studying the ruling.

The company cannot yet say whether it will appeal in cassation and does not yet know what the exact consequences of the ruling are.

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