Call for contributions to a special issue on: Digital Economy and the Law

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation invites contributions to a special issue which explores the legal consequences of the digital economy on labour law and industrial relations law.

This issue will be guest-edited by Professor Dr. Bernd Waas, Dr. Elena Gramano and Dr. Vera Pavlou (Goethe University, Frankfurt).

The theme

The growth of information and communication technologies during recent decades is giving rise to a new business model. A variety of terms has been used to refer to this phenomenon including: ‘gig economy’, ‘sharing’, ‘collaborative’, ‘platform, or ‘on-demand’ economy, ‘crowd sourcing’, ‘cloud sourcing’ and ‘digital economy’.

What is new about this business model is the fact that people offer certain assets — time, a particular working activity, a vehicle or accommodation — to other individuals or companies through digital platforms that  instantaneously connect demand and supply of certain services or products.

Platforms such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Airbnb have been growing rapidly, taking over an important share of the markets they operate in as well as opening up new markets for low-cost services.

From a labour law and industrial relations perspective, the unprecedented spread of digital platforms and the provision of work through these platforms raises many issues.

One crucial issue concerns the personal scope of employee-protective laws. Should those providing work through digital platforms be considered employees and thus fall under the scope of provisions designed to protect employees? Or should they be classified as independent contractors and be excluded from labour law protections? The debate on setting labour law’s coverage is nothing new to labour scholars. Yet, to what extent does the digital economy challenge the traditional techniques we use to distinguish between employees and independent contractors?

The new business model is also changing the way work is organized giving rise to new working arrangements, management practices, and surveillance patterns that depart from the standard model of full-time, permanent employment with one employer paid by the hour, day or week. How should labour law respond to these new forms of work organisation?

New forms of work organisation and the diversity of those providing work on digital platforms imply further challenges for collective organisations; what is the role of trade unions in the organization and representation of ‘gig’ workers and to what extent have existing trade unions responded effectively to the challenges the digital economy poses?

The changes created due to the expansion of the digital economy have inevitably attracted the attention of policy makers at the EU level. In June 2016 the European Commission published a Communication titled ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’. The Communication on the one hand, praises the opportunities the so-called collaborative economy creates, while on the other hand, warns of the regulatory challenges it poses. What should be the role – if any – of the EU and its institutions in this respect? And what should be the role of other regulatory bodies, at national, regional or city level?

The call

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation welcomes contributions that address the impacts of the digital economy on labour and industrial relations law from an EU, national or comparative law perspective.  We are particularly interested in contributions that deal with one or more of the following of the following issues:

  • The legal status of those working in the digital economy for the purposes of setting the personal scope of labour law rights and protections;
  • New forms of organisation and representation in the digital economy;
  • The role of EU law and EU institutions in the digital economy.

Given the journal’s interdisciplinary approach, contributions should be informative and contextual, but also suitable for a non-legal readership.

The Journal

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation is an independent, international, inter-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal, founded in 2006. For more information please see https://wolg.wordpress.com/ . All submitted articles are subjected to double-blind peer review.

Deadline and Guidelines

The deadline for submissions is January 31st, 2018.

The article should be no longer than 6,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography).

Articles should be submitted in two forms: an anonymised version in which all references to the authors’ institution and publications are omitted; and a full version including the author’s title(s) and institutional affiliation (s).

Articles should be sent to the editor: ursulahuws@analyticapublications.co.uk

For any specific question, please contact the guest editors: Dr. Elena Gramano (gramano@jur.uni-frankfurt.de) and Dr. Vera Pavlou (pavlou@jur.uni-frankfurt.de)

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