Work in the Digital Era – Legal Challenges

5 – 7 May 2021


Work in the Digital Era – Legal Challenges

XIII European Regional Congress of the
International Society for Labour and Social Security Law


5-7 May 2021



To date, we have lived in a world where the centrality of work – human labour and paid employment – was undisputed. But new phenomena are challenging and developing at an unprecedented and vertiginous scale: the fourth industrial revolution, industry 4.0, digitalisation, robotics, algorithms and Artificial Intelligence…

In fact, we are now living in a Digital Era. What sort of impacts will the new era have on human labour and paid employment? The 9 to 5 workday tradition has been stroke by industry 4.0 and is suffering considerable erosion, and work is no longer a place to go to but rather a task to fulfil, demanding a “permanently available” worker or employee to complete it. Which consequences and challenges arise from this new paradigm to the employee’s health and safety? Do employees have a right to “disconnect”?

Work performed through digital platforms (e.g. apps) and the so-called “sharing economy” are among us, probably weakening dependent or employed work (a typical example being Uber and similar transport services).

Robotics recent and amazing development announces the downturn of human work once it is said that automation and robots (especially collaborative robots or “cobots”) will render human work unnecessary, as it will be replaced by automatic processes; will this be the end of Employment Law?

In respect of the right to privacy, will it survive in this new world? What sort of personal data protection will there be in this new Digital Era? What consequences will this all have on the traditional principles of equality and non-discrimination? And how will this impact Social Security? Is Trade Unionism prepared to respond to the demands of the Digital Era? And will collective bargaining survive and adapt?

These and many other related questions are becoming burning issues every day, at a global scale. These will be the problems and challenges to discuss in the congress to be held in 2020, subject to the axial theme “Work in the Digital Era – Legal Challenges”.

You may find below a (still provisional) program of this congress

Provisional Program

May 5


11h30 (GMT) – Young Scholars meeting
12h00 (GMT) – ISLSSL Executive Commitee meeting, chaired by Janice Bellace and Giuseppe Casale


16h30 (GMT) – Opening Ceremony

  • Dra. Ana Mendes Godinho (Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security)
  • Prof. Doutor António Cruz Serra (Dean of Universidade de Lisboa)
  • Prof.ª Doutora Maria do Rosário Palma Ramalho (President of the Labour Law Portuguese Association and Full Professor of Universidade de Lisboa)
17h00(GMT) – 1st Plenary Session (round table):

Artificial Intelligence And Human Work: What Lies Ahead?

Chair: Janice Bellace (President ISLSSL)

  • Digital work vs. new forms of entrepreneurial organizationCarlos Moedas (Manager of Calouste Gulbenkiean Foundation, Former European Commissioner, Portugal)
  • New perspectives on Artificial Intelligence and employmentArlindo Oliveira (Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon – Portugal)
  • Artificial Intelligence within enterprises: case study – Ana Paula Marques (EDP Manager – Portugal)
  • The goals of labour law in the age of artificial intelligence – Jeremias Adams-Prassl (University of Oxford – United Kingdom)


18h30 (GMT) – End of activities

May 6


10h30 (GMT) – 1st Parallel Session:
Health And Safety At The Workplace And Social Security Protection In A Digital World

Chair: Jean-Michel Servais (Honorary President ISLSSL)

  • Major risks for health and safety in employment relations in the digital era – Leszek Mitrus (Jagiellonian University – Poland)
  • Social security systems in the digital eraKroum Markov (ILO)
  • Liability for work-related injuries in the digital eraJúlio Gomes (President of the Social Section of the Portuguese Supreme Court)
10h30 (GMT) – 2nd Parallel Session:
Social Networks And Employment Contract: What Are The Problems?

Chair: Mia Rönnmar (University of Lund) 

  • Limits on freedom of speech in social networksFelicia Rosioru (University Babeş-Bolyai, Romenia )
  • Seeking for a job: what is the place of social networks?Regina Redinha (Universidade do Porto – Portugal)
  • Social networks: public or private sphere? Marie-Cécile Escande-Varniol (Université Lumière Lyon II – France) 
10h30 (GMT) – 3rd Parallel Session:
Presentation Of The Book “Modern Forms of Work” , Young Scholars Section

Coordination: Stefano Bellomo (Università La Sapienza, Rome, Italy) / David Carvalho Martins (AJJ, Portugal)


10h30 (GMT) – 4th Parallel Session (conducted in Portuguese):
Work In The Digital Era, Developments In Portugal

Chair: Manuel Pinto Hespanhol (Portuguese Supreme Court)

  • Employment in the digital era: a new concept of worker?António Monteiro Fernandes (ISCTE, Lisboa – Portugal)
  • Work in the digital era: a new concept of employer / enterprise? – Catarina Carvalho (Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Porto – Portugal)
  • Work in the digital era: a new paradigm for collective bargaining? – José João Abrantes (Universidade Nova de Lisboa – Portugal)
10h30 (GMT) – 5th Parallel Session (conducted in Spanish)
Work in the digital Era: Developments in Spain

Chair: María Emilia Casas Baamonde (President AEDTSS)

  • The impact of new disruptive technologies on workers privacy – José Luis Goñi Sein – Public University of Navarra, Spain
  • Labour relations in the era of robotics and artificial intelligence – Jesús Mercader Uguina – University Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  • Algorithms and robots; the challenges of working in the digital age – María Luz Rodríguez Fernández – University of Castilla – La Mancha, Madrid, Spain


10h30 (GMT) – 6th Parallel Session (Presentation of Papers):
10h30 (GMT) – 7th Parallel Session (Presentation of Papers):
12h00 (GMT) – Break



13h00 (GMT) – 2nd Plenary Session:

Work In Digital Platforms: Legal Challenge

Chair: Tiziano Treu (President Emeritus of the ISLSSL)

    • Who to employ in digital platforms? – Miguel Rodriguez – Piñero Royo (University of Seville)
    • How to identify an employee vis-à-vis the new reality? – Valerio De Stefano (University of Leuven, Belgium)
    • Subordination versus economic dependence in employment relationships in the digital era – Maria do Rosário Palma Ramalho (University of Lisbon – Portugal)

14h45 (GMT) – Break


15h00 (GMT) – 8th Parallel Session:

Equality And Non-Discrimination In

Chair: Frank Hendrickx (University of Leuven, Belgium)

  • Gender (in)equality in digital platforms?Sylvaine Laulom (Cour de Cassation, France)
  • Digital work, equality and the reconciliation of professional life and private and family lifeSusanne Burri (University of Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Digital era, employment and discrimination: is there a discriminatory algorithm?Teresa Coelho Moreira (Universidade do Minho, Portugal)


15h00 (GMT) – 9th Parallel Session:

Robotics, Automation And Employment Contract: Main Trends

Chair: to be confirmed


  • Human work and automation: future trendsJosé Eduardo Resende Chaves Júnior (President of the Ibero-American Union of Judges)
  • Automation and technological unemployment: legal aspectsJoana Vasconcelos (Univerdade Católica Portuguesa, Lisboa, Portugal)
  • Managed by Algorithms: Legal Aspects of Automated Decision MakingLukasz Pisarczyk (University of Warsaw – Poland)


15h00 (GMT) – 10th Parallel Session (conducted in French):
The Algorithm And The Employment Contract
Chair: Martine Le Friant (Université d’Avignon, France)
  • Algorithmes et Contrat de TravailCostas Papadimitriou (University of Athens, Greece)
  • Patrice Adam (Université de Lorraine, France) – To be Confirmed
  • Luke Mason (Birmingham City University, United Kingdom) – To be Confirmed


15h00 (GMT) – 11th Parallel Session (conducted in Portuguese)

Post-pandemic Brazil: Labour Law and Governance


Chair: Nelson Mannrich (University of São Paulo, Brazil): Labour Law Flexibility post Coronavirus pandemic

  • The Role of Labour Judges during and after the pandemic – Maria Cristina Irigoyen Peduzzi (President of the Superior Labour Court) 
  • Evolucionary Interpretation of Constitutional Principles – Luis Carlos Robortella (Lawyer)
  • Informal Workers, Work in Platforms – The Urgent State Protection – Jouberto de Quadros Pessoa Cavalcante (Mackenzie Presbyterian Institute, São Paulo, Brazil)


15h00 (GMT) – 12th Parallel Session: (conducted in Portuguese)


15h00 (GMT) – 13th Parallel Session: Presentation Of Papers


15h00 (GMT) – 14th Parallel Session: Presentation Of Paper


16h30 (GMT) – End of Activities

May 7



10h30 (GMT) – 3rd Plenary Session:
Working Time And Workplace In The Digital Era: New Frontiers?

Chair: Manfred Weiss (Honorary President ISLSSL)

  • Working time, time for oneself and right to disconnect – João Leal Amado (Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal)
  • Remote work, telework and smart work – Natalie Munkholm (University of Aarhus, Denmark)
  • Globalization: how to discover the proper law of the employment contract? – Piera Loi (University of Cagliari, Italy)
      12h00 (GMT)– Break


      13h00 (GMT) – 4th Plenary Session:

      Collective Action And Collective Bargaining In The Digital Era: Main Trends

      Chair: Stein Evju (University of Oslo)

      • Digital work and trade unionism: can they go together? – Bernd Waas (University of Frankfurt, Germany)
      • Digital work and collective bargaining, a new regulatory challenge? – Fausta Guarriello (University Chieti-Pescara, Italy)
      • Digital work: a new task for social dialogue? – Jesús Cruz Vilallón (University of Seville, Spain)

      14h45 (GMT) –  Break

      15h00 (GMT) – 5th Plenary Session:

      Work In A Digital Era, Human Rights And Personal Data Protection

      Chair: Maria do Rosário Palma Ramalho (President APODIT)

      • Technological Omniscience, Social Freedom, and the Law – Matthew Finkin (University of Illinois, USA)
      • The digital era and personal data protection: case law – Ana Guerra Martins (European Court of Human Rights)
      • Digital work, fundamental rights and personality rights – Guillermo Barrios Baudor (University Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain)



      17h00 (GMT) – Closing Session – General Assembly of the ISLSSL