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Labour law

2016

In a new judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that employers may read private communications made during office hours. The case of Bărbulescu v. Romania involved a Romanian national who had instituted action against his employer after his employment contract was terminated for breach of the company’s internal regulations, and the fact that transcripts of personal messages were produced as evidence. With six votes to one, the Court ruled that it is not unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours.

2015

A Forbes Magazine report highlights the changing lanscape of the workforce in the United States. 11% of Xerox's employees now work remotely 100% of the time, whilst at Aetna as many as 43% of its emloyees telecommute and at Dell 20,000 employees telecommute. As these changes occur it raises challenges over how businesses will measure, regulate and compensate work. As more workers telecommute the question of jurisdiction will also be raised as work permits required by employees could be different to that required in the jurisdiction where the company is based.

In 2014 245 million surveillance cameras were installed accross businesses in the United States, as it is currently legal to monitor employees through CCTV in the US as long as there is a legitimate reason for filming employees. This article details the rights of employees being surveilled and the need to balance staff privacy.

There is no doubt that the Internet has brought about significant economic growth. Yet, in at least one area – the job market – automated tasks and a reduction in routine time for certain tasks has had an impact on jobs. Job losses have been experienced in some markets. However, there is broad consensus that this phenomenon - due the growth in the digital economy – is temporary and that the sector will reabsorb the damage with time.

More info at GIP DW:  Report from the Workshop on Digital Economy, Jobs and Multistakeholder Practices (WS 29).

 

This Reconnomics article explores how Uber is using analytics and algorithms to manage their drivers. It explores the effects on Uber's worforce of constantly monitoring drivers, creating information asymmetries between them and replacing managers with customers. It reflects more broadly on the changing nature of work in the so-called "gig economy" and the future of employment.

Amazon Prime's new courrier service claims its drivers are contractors, however a number of them are claiming they are employees and challenging Amazon in court. The drivers argue that every task they perform is under the control of Amazon, and that Amazon is achieving speed and affordability only by cheating workers of their rights. This suit represents the latest development in the battleground of the employee versus contractor debate which has raged over the last few years in the United States.

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