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Digital labor platform workers protection: a techno-regulation model

Digital labor platform workers protection: a techno-regulation model

 
Massimo De Minicis, Researcher at INAPP,
Silvia Donà, Post-Doctoral Researcher at INAPP,
Nicola Lettieri, Researcher at INAPP,
Manuel Marocco, Researcher at INAPP
Division: Business & economics, sociology & humanities or law
 

Abstract

Labor platforms open up new prospects for economic development, but still pose a series of questions far from being solved. The supranational dimension of corporate structures, the multilevel architecture of the technological infrastructures and the substantial inscrutability of the algorithms used to match labor demand and supply give rise to complex issues. In this scenario, traditional legal remedies risk being inadequate for the needs of governing the processes underway. The challenge to deal with is that of developing new regulatory strategies providing workers with adequate safeguards on the economic, social security and working conditions.
The paper deals with this topic placing itself in the perspective of techno-regulation, a paradigm where technology is not only object but also an integral part of the regulatory process (De Filippi 2018, Brownsword, 2015; Leenes 2011). The first part of the work is devoted to a review of state of the art in the field of labor platforms at European level – with particular attention to the so-called indirect regulation proposals (Ratti, 2017; Faioli, 2018) – and to a brief introduction to algorithmic governance. The paper proposes then a strategy for the protection of gig economy workers that integrates, within a hybrid architecture – what we define as Integrated Crowdwork System (ICS) – legal safeguards and technological solutions.
The strategy presented is based on two fundamental actions. The first is the introduction of a “digital intermediator,” a technological layer that allows public administrations to keep track of all the relationships between digital labor platforms and crowd workers, and to verify their conformity to labor law and contracts. The second is the development of a mobile app that workers will have to use to allow the tracking and the public control over transitions taking place within the digital market. The model also provides for a personal register of the activities and compensation received by the platform workers, with positive spillovers for those excluded from social security due to the episodic nature of their services. From this point of view, our model is in tune with the idea of providing crowd workers with earnings-related insurance system, i.e., insurance systems based on income, rather than on nature – subordinate or autonomous – of work (Kovács, 2017).