Digital Work

In a recent report, the World Economic Forum has advised digitalization is going to destroy 5 million jobs between 2015 and 2020. This report also suggests 65% of the current students are going to have a job which does not exist nowadays. Digitalization is right now at the core of the political, social and economic debate. The so-called “Economy 4.0” is a real challenge for all societies, not only because it means a profound transformation, but also owed to its potential impact on employment, working conditions and social protection all over the world.

On this base, our purpose is analysing, from a practical and interdisciplinary perspective, the deep change which is undergoing employment, working and social conditions. In order to achieve this objective, we will develop a methodological approach which integrates interdisciplinary analysis and the so-called “case study”. This will permit us to combine the classical scientific study with some practical experiences obtained from real cases of companies of the technological sector. Our final aim is trying to contribute, from an objective and practical point of view, to the delimitation of the new trends of Social Law.

Hence, our research will be focused on three main areas. First, we will pay attention to the interrelation between digital economy and employment. Digitalization is transforming the phenomena of unemployment, from both a quantitative (with higher unemployment rates) and a qualitative point of view (arising new social problems, such as the vulnerable employment). This requires the adoption of new measures related to lifelong training, active labour market policies and social protection, not only for those who are unemployed, but also for employed workers. Keeping the same job for life can no longer be considered to be the rule and, consequently, legal institutions must adapt to this new circumstances.

Second, digital economy is also transforming working conditions, calling into question the most basic ideas of Employment Law, such as the concepts of employment relationship or employee. Furthermore, the traditional way used by workers to defend their interest and crystalized into Labour Law seem to be no longer effective. Are still the classical legal institutions valid in this new context? Is it necessary its adaptation or new answers are needed? Finding answers for this questions means considering that this new situation requires the reconsideration of legal institutions, trying to find the right balance between fair working and living conditions and the necessities of the digital economy.

Finally, whether the aim of full employment is no longer achievable or working conditions are transforming radically, social protection will have to change to provide a new net for all these new risks. Actually, new jobs and new activities also mean new risks so, even for those who are active workers, social protection will find new solutions. The debate on basic income, for example, is not a topic for the future, but for the present, and this is owed to the necessity of finding new forms of social protection before the challenges of digitalization.

Consequently, this project aims to analyse how digitalization is transforming labour market, taking into consideration the reaction of the subjects involved directly. On this base, our goal is providing viable answers to face the upcoming challenges related to employment, working conditions and industrial relations and social protection.

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  • Foto de Luz Rodríguez de la Exposición "Nosotros Robots"