Labour rights & the digital transition


Dates and times: 

October 28, 2021 - 13:30 to October 29, 2021 - 13:30


online online


ETUI hybrid event: participation is possible both in person and online

The impact of digitalisation on society and the world of work is growing and will only become more pervasive. But the transformation is a multifaceted one. We are simultaneously witnessing the emergence of new business models, such as platform and gig work, and the expansion of digital marketplaces and service providers with extraordinary market power (such as Amazon). Both evolutions entail profound changes to certain industries and to labour relations. At the same time, the introduction of AI in the workplace presents new issues with regards to surveillance and health and safety. To top it all, digitalisation has allowed employers to claim that workers now enjoy greater autonomy and are thus less in need of strong employment protection.

In the context of these transformational changes, how can we ensure that the digital transition does not occur at the expense of workers’ rights and conditions?

This conference proposes a multidimensional discussion on the role of labour law in this area and seeks to identify initiatives that have been taken, or could be taken, on various fronts:

EU policymaking: The von der Leyen Commission has made its intention clear to ensure that the digital transition takes place in a fair and just manner. Policymakers and experts will discuss the initiatives proposed by the European Commission and will assess their potential impact on the world of work.

The normative aspect: The transformative impact of technology calls for a theoretical reflection on how labour law can be adapted without losing its protective and emancipatory function with respect to workers' prerogatives. The panellists will present proposals on possible ways to ensure the relevance of labour law.

Case law: A trend of rulings in favour of ‘digital’ workers is emerging in the European courts, especially in the area of the platform economy. Legal practitioners and expert observers will discuss what lessons policymakers can draw from the recent jurisprudence.

Collective bargaining and trade unions: Digitalisation has accelerated changes in the distribution of bargaining power, leading to the emergence of companies with very strong market power as well as to the creation of many jobs that these companies consider to be in the sphere of ‘autonomous’ or ‘independent’ work. Representatives from the trade union world and experts in the field will explain the various challenges and opportunities for collective bargaining in this new world.

The full programme is available at:

Registration: Oct 27, 2021
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