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Just Helpers: A fair deal for cleaners

Just Helpers self-employed staff are paid at least the London Living Wage. This commitment is rooted in the biblical principle of honouring workers.

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTOR 193/Charlee_New 23 DE MAYO DE 2022 09:30 h
Antoinette Daniel, Founder & CEO of Just Helpers. / [link]Jubilee Centre[/link]

Antoinette Daniel has a big vision; she wants every cleaner in the UK to earn the real Living Wage, or higher.

She’s started with her own agency, because, in her own words, ‘to impact this world, someone has got to prove that fully commercial is possible’.

When Antoinette started her own domestic cleaning business back in 2013, she was shocked to hear stories from other women about bad practices in the sector, especially low pay, late pay and sexual exploitation.

Today, she runs Just Helpers, the domestic cleaning agency which she founded, and which has grown steadily.

It provides ethical cleaning services to busy Londoners, and all 51 helpers are paid at least the London Living Wage (currently £11.05 per hour) even though they are self-employed.

It's a difficult task to demonstrate that an ethical cleaning agency can be commercially viable. Just Helpers walks a fine line between prices that offer fair wages, but that also won’t price them out of the cleaning market.

Customers are used to paying substantially less for domestic cleaning services than they would at Just Helpers. 

To make this work, Antoinette is both business manager and campaigner. She’s fully committed to building a profitable, commercial business that can act as a model for reform, but she also knows that there needs to be a larger shift in the marketplace.

She needs to raise awareness about ethical cleaning, and build a core community committed to those ideals and willing to pay for them.

She has successfully built a business with over 500 customers who are willing to pay more for a fairer deal, but the market as a whole has a long way to go.  

This core community has already been tested. When domestic cleaning was brought to a halt during 2020’s lockdowns, Just Helpers took the opportunity to review their prices, and increased them by 10% to include an Annual Leave levy for their self-employed staff.

It’s not an easy ask in the post-covid economic climate, but Antoinette wanted to be upfront with customers about the real cost of cleaning, and that includes holiday pay for your cleaner.

She wants to be able to offer her self-employed cleaners the same sorts of pay and benefits that an employee would get in any other business.  

‘You have to navigate between what you know Jesus would want you to do, and what's possible within the models we have. Proper employment contracts protect the worker, but the business isn’t viable with them—and it doesn’t help the cleaner if you go bust.’ 

This non-negotiable commitment to pay cleaners the Living Wage and improve their other terms and conditions, rooted in the biblical principle of honouring workers, helps Just Helpers navigate the complexities of trying to build an ethical business in an imperfect world.

And Antoinette’s commitment to provide a working model of an ethical cleaning business pushes her sector to do better.

This is what it means to be a Christian social reformer at work today

Charlee New, the Jubilee Centre’s Storytelling Lead & part of its ‘Church & Enterprise’ research team.

This article was first published on the website of the Jubilee Centre and re-published with permission.



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