“Housework shaken by the arrival of the new actors that knock down the prices” ran the title of the Figaro ( French newspaper), on October 16th 2014, after that several companies got into the relationship between individuals and self-employed houseworkers. A business model that allows newcomers to knock down the prices. When  one hour of house cleaning is around 20 euros in the traditional agencies before tax deduction, Helpling offers a price of 17,90 euros (for a one-time service), Hassle 15,90 euros and Homejoy 18,90 euros. On average, those websites take an  20%  commission on the house workers salary.

While pretending to fight undeclared work, that represents 40% of the sector, those new comers also show their wish to offer  social security, even a minimal one, to the people who had none until now and  in a sector that encounters difficulties to hire employees. Traditional actors or ” simple” go-betweens, it is hard to find the houseworkers that best match  the customers requirements. Indeed, hiring employees or calling on self-employed requires a  different level of commitment , and can have an impact on the service quality. As the Board for Society and Consumption pointed out, from the consumer side, it is the opportunity to get less expensive services, but “ the delivered service isn’t the same as the one delivered by the traditionnal cleaning agencies. It involves an adventure part, risks, similar to the difference between a stay at a an individual’s home via AirBnB and a night in a classic hotel “. It’s up to the customer to make a choice.

After more than 6 months of presence, the scathing voice of the customers didn’t wait long to get heard on the forums. Of course, there are satisfied customers and they are not the most active on the web. We don’t want to make a black list of the operators as Helpling or Hassle or a list of the complaints à la Prévert, but t to confirm if needed that not only  adventure and risk  does exist and that a reduced price requires to accept also a lower quality. Some of the expressed objections and complaints were actually predictable, as it was inherent to the business model. It is in fact impossible to make sure for the customer when making his order, that a service provider is available and that he will go to the service location at the required day and time. They are also blamed for the absence of security or guarantee in case of litigation with the service provider , because as intermediary, these web operators don’t have any responsibility, unlike traditional companies.

This being said, the customer isn’t the only one to make a choice. Working as employee or service provider comes up with real questions, and better be informed about it. Job seekers are not all aware of the legal issues that can arise, or their rights as the one to get social security. As a service provider, we could be attracted by higher salaries, but the comparison between a banana and a carrot isn’t easy. That’s why we made a summary table allowing to highlight the points that seem to be important to us in regard to salaries and social status.

Intermediairy – One-time ServiceIntermediairy – Regular ServiceEmployee
Cost for the customer, for a 1h service17,90 €15,90 €20,00 €
Commission for the intermediairy-20%-20%N/A
Costs and taxes 26%-26%-26%N/A
Net salary for 1 hour10,60 €9,40 €8 €*
Paid vacationnono+10%
Travel expensesnonoyes
Travel time (home-service location) expensesnonoyes**
Additional healthcare covernonoyes
Unemployment benefitnonoyes
Social cover ***limitedlimitedyes

(*) Observed average in Paris area on a panel of 850 employees in more than 50 companies.
(**) As written in the conditions of the CCNSAP ( Labor Agreement for Home Services)
(***) source : http://www.apce.com/apce3/auto-entrepreneur/index.php?&rub=&rubID=2

There is no preconceived answer. It’s all question of choice and risk management, because even if the salary seems more important when going self-employed , being an employee can be more favorable (paid vacation, travel expenses, taking leaves of absence …) or at least, more reassuring . It’s up to each of us to make the math. The freedom to start something has a cost and maybe a real source of profit if there is a substantial  activity, where it is actually possible to work for intermediaries in addition to a paid activity.

« The uberization » (or “plateformization”) of the economy is ready to disrupt lots of activity sectors. Home services won’t be saved by this phenomenon. But these risks can also hide an ocean of opportunities …