About the project
The Irel project encompasses three cases of digital transformation that show different implications for work patterns and industrial relations:
“Irel- Smarter Industrial Relations to Address New Technological Challenges in the World of Work” (March 2019 to February 2021), Co-funded by the European Commission, DG EMPL, under the Budget Heading 04.03.01.08 Improving Expertise in the Field of Industrial Relations.
It pursues three main goals: to analize the way in which industrial relations players and practices are coping with the problems that arise from the transformation of employment patterns prompted by technological innovation; to promote transnational dialogue, exchange of information and benchmarking of best practices; to put forward policy proposals aimed at providing innovative and effective solutions to the problems of collective representation and regulation of employment relations in digitized workplaces.
The “digital transformation” of production processes poses landmark challenges for the organization of the workplace and the related employment patterns. Such challenges call into question the regulatory role of industrial relations and the capacity of social partners to promote fair working conditions along with a smooth adjustment of companies to the new determinants of competitiveness.
Industry 4.0 represents a world in which virtual and physical systems of manufacturing cooperate globally with each other in a flexible way, to offer highly customized products and services, and this has a profound impact on employment relations.
Platform work is a form of employment that uses online platforms to match the supply and demand for labour. The types of work offered through platforms are ever-increasing, giving rise to significant challenges for existing regulatory frameworks.
Smart work is a new model of working adopting information technology to allow work to take place “anytime, anywhere” and to balance personal needs, space, time and responsibility, with a view to improving employee performance and job satisfaction.
[Order of the Court of Justice, 22 April 2020] The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled on a request for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the “worker” status under EU law for the purpose of the Directive 2003/88/EC concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. The Court of Justice has stated that an individual qualified as self-employed independent contractor under national law cannot be classified as “worker” under EU law if “that person is afforded discretion: to use subcontractors or substitutes to perform the service which he has undertaken to provide; to accept or not accept the various tasks offered by his putative employer, or unilaterally set the maximum number of those tasks; to provide his services to any third party, including direct competitors of the putative employer, and to fix his own hours of ‘work’ within certain parameters and to tailor his time to suit his personal convenience rather than solely the interests of the putative employer”, unless his independence is fictitious and it is possible to establish the existence of an employment relationship between the individual and the putative employer. The decision of the European Court of Justice has an impact on the qualification of the gig-workers.
[European Commission, 13 December 2019]. Study to gather evidence on the working conditions of platform workers. Final Report by CEPS, EFTHEIA, and HIVA-KU Leuven.
The main challenges identified in the study include employment status, information available to the workers about their working conditions, dispute resolution, collective rights and non-discrimination. The study details the variety of policy responses in the Member States and explores how existing EU law helps to address the challenges identified.
Due to the precautions taken by the public health authorities, the workshop on “Platform Work” scheduled for 18 March has been postponed to a date yet to be determined.
Marco Biagi Foundation is a lead applicant of the European Project “iRel-Smarter Industrial Relations to Address New Technological Challenges in the World of Work”
Phone number: +059 205 6042
Address: Largo Marco Biagi, 10, 41121 Modena (Italy)