Appeal court judges in The Hague have ruled that Booking.com workers must be part of the travel industry pension scheme and that the company should pay contributions dating back to January 1999.
The court said Booking is primarily an ‘online travel agent’ and not an IT company, as it claims and its staff, therefore, should be members of the travel pension fund.
The case was brought by the Bpf Reisbranche which disagreed with Booking’s argument that it was not actively involved in the agreements made between hotels and tourists.
After the pension fund lost two lower court cases, the Supreme Court ruled in April 2021 that Booking should be considered an online travel agency because it mediates in the establishment of travel-related contracts via its platform. The Supreme Court then referred the case back to The Hague court of appeal.
The Hague court said on Tuesday that Booking’s “core activity can be inferred from the description in the articles of association, the information on the website, the general terms and conditions, the annual accounts and the company’s turnover.”
Most of the work performed by Booking staff, including the IT and software employees, are contributing to these core activities. This in turn, the court said, means Booking.com must participate in the pension scheme of the travel industry.
Booking says the backdated payments will cost it some €405 million. The Amsterdam-based company currently operates its own fund for some 5,000 employers in the Netherlands.
A spokesman for Booking told Dutch News that “we are currently working through the available options and next steps as a result of this ruling… As a global tech company, we believe that having the flexibility and autonomy to tailor our overall total rewards package, including our pension plan.”
Last November the Supreme Court ruled that meal delivery service Deliveroo should be part of the transport pension fund and similar cases are still pending involving Getir, Gorillas and taxi company Uber.
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