Only days after an apparent ‘landmark’ victory for workers in the the UK’s gig economy, a cleaner has been ‘blocked’ from servicing a customer’s home because she was ill at the time of her client’s appointment.
According to resident Polly Mackenzie, her cleaner (working through the Handy home service app), was ‘blocked’ from working in her home again, and forced to pay £25 in compensation.
The news follows a ruling by an employment tribunal in London that the city’s 40,000 Uber drivers are entitled to basic workers’ rights such as minimum pay, paid breaks and holidays. The decision was welcomed by GMB, one of the UK’s largest unions, as a major step forward. However the decision could have implications for London’s – or even the UK’s – gig economy at large, although this remains to be seen.
But Mackenzie, who used the Handy gig-app to have her home cleaned, claims that the treatment of her cleaner has been ‘horrific’. According to Mackenzie, the Handy’s first move was to ban the cleaner from working in her home outright. The story took a further turn the next day when her cleaner was reinstated, but docked £25.
I use an app-based cleaning service. This morning my cleaner was ill and couldn't make it. The company are sending a replacement tomorrow (good) and banning my ill cleaner from working for me again as punishment (horrific).
— Polly Mackenzie (@pollymackenzie) November 13, 2017
Yesterday my cleaner was ill and @Handy banned her from taking further jobs with me. I got her reinstated. But I now discover she was fined £25 which they refuse to refund. Disgusted. https://t.co/nSwFbKYo9t
— Polly Mackenzie (@pollymackenzie) November 14, 2017
Mackenzie claims that she was sent a, “a grovelling email – as if they’d killed my firstborn,” from the cleaner and found that her account has been credited £5 for her inconvenience. She added that it appeared Handy had, “profited £20 from her illness, about twice as much as they’d make if she turned up.”
New York-based Handy, has explained that the cleaner was automatically blocked from Mackenzie’s residence by their systems as she appeared as a ‘no show’. The firm have said that at no point was the cleaner banned from working for Handy, and that it is now, “reviewing its policy regarding waiving fees for emergencies such as this”.” Handy has added that the company was also cancelling their fine after learning of the cleaner’s reason for not attending the initial appointment.
While the cleaner has been allowed to work with Mackenzie again, the incident has ignited debates surrounding the pitfalls of the gig economy. As with the Uber London Ltd debate, there are concerns that workers’ basic rights are being violated. One commenter wrote to Handy on Twitter: “You are simply an extortioner, engaging in wage slavery, where you control every aspect of your victims’ livelihood.”
I'm not sure showing us photos of your gluttony after blocking your cleaners from work and stealing £25 from them for being ill is such a good PR move. You are simply an extortioner, engaging in wage slavery, where you control every aspect of your victims' livelihood.
— Ethdhelwen (@Ethdhelwen) November 14, 2017