Labour law

Updates

OECD released the report Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning urging countries to scale-up and upgrade their adult learning system to enable people to be adapted to the changings of the labour market. The report highlights critical areas for reform in adult training. It outlines the future-readiness of all countries members of the OECD. It recommends countries to provide targeted support for the low skilled, the unemployed, migrants and older people. In addition, it suggests that countries should ensure adequate public financing and tax incentives to contribute through training. Greece and Slovak Republic perform poorly in most dimensions of future readiness.

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union reached a provisional agreement on the Digital Europe programme for 2021-2027, which will invest in five digital sectors: high performance computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and trust. In the budget, it is included € 700 million to be invested on large-scale digital capacity and digital skills. The goal is to ensure that the current and future workforce will have the opportunity to acquire advanced digital skills through training courses and job traineeships, in any Member State of residence. Digital Innovation Hubs will implement programmes to support small and medium-sized companies and public administrations to equip their staff with the needed advanced skills to deal with supercomputing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

The Canadian Federal Government has committed to invest $225 million over four years to establish a Future Skills Centre at Ryerson University, in Toronto. According to a joint announcement by Employment Minister Patty Hajdu and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the Centre will focus on testing approaches throughout the country to guarantee young people are acquiring suitable skills for the future of work. Morneau said that in 20 years, 70 per cent of jobs will be impacted by automation and 40 per cent will disappear. Because the job market is fast changing, the government has taken measures to ensure citizens are prepared for it. A Future Skills Council with 15 members will provide the employment minister with advice on arising skills and workforce trends.

The World Bank Group and the European Commission committed to tackle together issues related to the future of work in all countries and regions where they operate. The collaboration between both organisations will be focused on the skills challenges emerging from the changing nature of work. They aim to prepare citizens with sound basic education and digital skills. Activities related to the digital economy and employability are at the core of each institution’s commitment. They will collaborate in region-wide initiatives, including the Africa-Europe Alliance on Sustainable Investment and Jobs, and the Digital Moonshot for Africa. Technical teams will meet frequently in order to foster coordination at global, regional and national levels.

Australian federal government wants to make sure that on-demand economy worker pays their fair share of taxes. The Treasury published an industry discussion paper containing proposals for a mandatory regime of taxes for people working in the sector. The measure would include companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and Uber eats, among others. Sharing economy has experienced significant growth in Australia, and authorities are concerned that there is a possibility that some workers do not report their current income to avoid paying the right amount of taxes. The Transportation Workers Union of Australia has condemned the proposal, alleging that, first, the government should consider regulating the on-demand economy to protect workers, including legislation on minimum pay, superannuation, sick leave, and the possibility of collective bargain. 

A court in Brussels ruled that UberX respects the legal requirements in Brussels and can continue to operate in the Capital of Belgium. The judge dismissed the appeal filed by a taxi association claiming that the company unlawfully provides taxi services. According to Lalibre.com, the judge decided that Uber does not provide transportation, does not own any vehicle, and does not need taxi license. In addition, it was ruled that the drivers cannot be considered employed by Uber, because they are free to choose their work time and there is no relation of subordination between the company and the drivers, which is typical of an employment relationship. 

It is frequently mentioned that the Internet is changing the way in which we work. ICTs have blurred the traditional routine of work, free time, and sleep (8+8+8 hours), especially in multinational corporation working environment. It is increasingly difficult to distinguish where work starts and where it ends. These changes in working patterns may require new labour legislation, addressing such issues as working hours, the protection of labour interests, and remuneration.

While this phenomenon requires broader elaboration, the following aspects are of direct relevance to Internet governance:

  • The Internet introduced a high level of temporary and short-term workers. The term ‘permatemp’ was coined for employees who are kept for long periods on regularly reviewed short-term contracts. This introduces a lower level of social protection of the workforce.
  • Teleworking is becoming increasingly relevant with the further development of telecommunications, especially with broadband access to the Internet.
  • Outsourcing to other countries in the ICT service sector, such as call centres and data processing units, is on the rise. A considerable number of these activities have already been transferred to low-cost countries, mainly in Asia and Latin America.

In the field of labour law, one important issue is the question of privacy in the workplace. Is an employer allowed to monitor employees’ use of the Internet (such as the content of e-mail messages or website access)? Jurisprudence is gradually developing in this field, with a variety of new solutions on offer.

In France, Portugal, and Great Britain, legal guidelines and a few cases have tended to restrict the surveillance of employee e-mail. The employer must provide prior notice of any monitoring activities. In Denmark, courts considered a case involving an employee’s dismissal for sending private e-mails and accessing a sexually oriented chat website. The court ruled that dismissal was not lawful since the employer did not have an Internet use policy in place banning the unofficial use of the Internet. Another rationale applied by the Danish court was the fact that the employee’s use of the Internet did not affect his working performance.

An additional point of concern arising with the ever-growing use of social networking is the delimitation between private and working life. Recent cases showed that employees behaviour and comments on social networking sites may address various topics, from workplace and co-workers to employer’s strategies and products, deemed as personal (and private) opinions, but which may considerably affect the image and reputation of companies and colleagues.

Labour law has traditionally been a national issue. However, globalisation in general and the Internet in particular have led to the internationalisation of labour issues. With an increasing number of individuals working for foreign entities and interacting with work teams on a global basis, an increasing need arises for appropriate international regulatory mechanisms. This aspect was recognised in the WSIS declaration, which, in paragraph 47, calls for the respect of all relevant international norms in the field of the ICT labour market.

Events

Actors

(ILO)

The International Labour Organization carries out activities dedicated to addressing social and labour issues

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The International Labour Organization carries out activities dedicated to addressing social and labour issues in specific economic sectors, at national and international levels. One of these sectors is postal and telecommunication services (including the Internet), where the ILO works on assisting governments, employers, and workers to develop policies and programmes aimed at enhancing economic opportunities and improving working conditions. It pays particular attention to major trends in this sector (deregulation, privatisation, etc.) and how they affect the labour force. The organisation also explores aspects related to the opportunities and challenges that the fourth industrial revolution is bringing to the world of work.

(ECHR)

The European Court of Human Rights deals with privacy through the prism of Article 8 of the

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The European Court of Human Rights deals with privacy through the prism of Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It adjudicates on cases brought on against Council of Europe member states accused of being in violation of one or more articles of the Convention. The ECHR has a broad view of what it deems to be protected as ‘personal data’ as any information related to a person (identified or identifiable), which falls under the ‘private life’ part of Article 8. Its most recent high-profile case on the issue found the Hungarian government in breach of Article 8, due to its broad surveillance law.

(CJEU)

In recent years, the CJUE has adopted important rulings on Internet intermediary liabilities.

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In recent years, the CJUE has adopted important rulings on Internet intermediary liabilities. In particular, CJUE’s case law focused for instance on the liability of a service provider in an online marketplace (McFadden v Sony Music Entertainment Germany, 2016), the liability of operators of internet marketplaces (L'Oréal v eBay, 2011), the liability of search engine operators (Google Spain case, 2014) and on the tension between data protection and online enforcement (Promusicae v Telefonica, 2008).

(EU)

In establishing its digital single market, the EU has progressively developed a dense 

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In establishing its digital single market, the EU has progressively developed a dense copyright legislation corresponding to a set of ten directives, which harmonise essential rights of authors, performers, producers and broadcasters. To ensure EU copyright rules are fit for the digital age, the European Commission has recently presented legislative proposals to modernise the EU legal framework, in order to allow more cross-border access to content online and wider opportunities to use copyrighted materials in education, research and cultural heritage; and have a better functioning copyright marketplace.

(OECD)

Convergence is one of the digital policy issues that the OECD is paying attention to, especially in relation t

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Convergence is one of the digital policy issues that the OECD is paying attention to, especially in relation to the challenges this phenomenon brings on traditional markets, and the need for adequate policy and regulatory frameworks to address them. In 2008, the organisation issued a set of policy guidelines for regulators to take into account when addressing challenges posed by convergence. In 2016, a report issued in preparation for the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy included new recommendations for policy-makers. Digital convergence issues have been on the agenda of OECD Ministerial meetings since 2008, and are also tackled in the regular OECD Digital Economy Outlook report.

(WEF)

Within the framework of its Digital Economy and Society initiative, WEF has launched the

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Within the framework of its Digital Economy and Society initiative, WEF has launched the Internet for All project, aimed at bringing online tens of millions of Internet users by the end of 2019, initially through programmes targeted at the Northern Corridor in Africa, Argentina, and India. In addition to this project, WEF also undertakes research on Internet-access-related issues. One notable example is the annual Global Information Technology Report and the related Networked Readiness Index, which measures, among others, the rates of Internet deployment worldwide. Internet access and the digital divide are also addressed in the framework of various WEF initiatives such as its annual meetings and regional events.

Instruments

Judgements

Case of Barbulescu v Romania - European Court of Human Rights (2016)

Other Instruments

Resources

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

GIP event reports

A workers' agenda for e-commerce (2018)
Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and the Future of Work (2018)
Remedy against the Machine (2017)
Are Emerging Technology Innovations Driving Better Access to Remedy in Global Supply Chains? (2017)
The Future of Work (2017)
Launch of the Information Economy Report 2017 (2017)
How the Digital Revolution Changes Our Work Life (2017)
Work and Society (2017)
Decent Jobs for All (2017)
The Organization of Work and Production (2017)
The Governance of Work (2017)
How Youth of Today See the Future of Work and How They Will Contribute to Ensuring the Future We Want (2017)
ICANN58: Joint Meeting ICANN Board & Customer Standing Committee (2017)

Processes

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13th IGF 2018

UNCTAD 2018

WSIS Forum 2018

12th IGF 2017

WTO Public Forum 2017

WSIS Forum 2017

IGF 2016

WTO Public Forum 2016

IGF 2015

IGF 2016 Report

 

Labour law gained higher prominence at IGF 2016, mainly through discussion of the impact of the digital economy (including the sharing economy) on labour rights (Digital Economy and the Future of Work - WS34). It was underlined that new economic models create new jobs, but at the same time this creates a challenge for the labour market to keep up with the needs of the industry. 

IGF 2015 Report

 

Developments in the digital economy also have consequences on employment. Digital Economy, Jobs and Multistakeholder Practices (WS 29) discussed the short-term phenomenon of job losses due to automation, which is believed will be offset by the job-creating impact of innovation in the long term.

 

 

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