Work in the Digital Era – Legal Challenges

Universidade de Lisboa
2 – 4 September 2020


Work in the Digital Era – Legal Challenges

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


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


September 2, 2020:


10h00 – Welcome and Registration

10h30 – Young Scholars meeting

11h00 – ISLSSL Executive Committee meeting, chaired by Janice Bellace and Giuseppe Casale


14h00 – Doctoral Students meeting chaired by Janice Bellace, (President, ISLSSL)
15h30 – Opening Ceremony
16h00 – 1st Plenary Session (round table):
Artificial Intelligence And Human Work: What Lies Ahead?

– Digital work vs. new forms of entrepreneurial organization.
– Job market in the 21st Century: for humans and robots?
– New perspectives on artificial intelligence and employment.
– Artificial intelligence within enterprises: case study.

September 3, 2020:



9h30 – 2nd Plenary Session:
Work In Digital Platforms: Legal Challenges

– Who to employ in digital platforms?
– How to identify an employee vis-à-vis the new reality?
– Is economic dependence of workers regaining relevance? / “Fissurized” work.

11h00 – Coffee break
11h30 – 1st Parallel Session:
Health And Safety At The Workplace And Social Security Protection In A Digital World

– Major risks for health and safety in the digital era.
– Social security systems in the digital era.
– Liability for work-related injuries in the digital era.

11h30 – 2nd Parallel Session:
Social Networks And Employment Contract: What Are The Problems?

– Limits on freedom of speech in social networks.
– Seeking a job: how do social networks contribute?
– Social networks: public or private sphere?

11h30 – 3rd Parallel Session:
Presentation Of The Book “Modern Forms Of Work”, Young Scholars Section


11h30 – 4th Parallel Session (conducted in Portuguese):
Work In The Digital Era, Developments In Portugal

– Work in the digital era: a new concept of worker?
– Work in the digital era: a new concept of employer / enterprise?
– Work in the digital era: a new paradigm for collective bargaining?

11h30 – 5th Parallel Session (conducted in Spanish):
11h30 – 6th Parallel Session (Presentation of Papers):
11h30 – 7th Parallel Session (Presentation of Papers):
13h00 – Lunch break


15h00 – 3rd Plenary Session:
Working Time And Workplace In The Digital Era: New Frontiers?

– Work time, on-call work and right to disconnect.
– Remote work, telework and smart work.
– Globalization: how to discover the proper law of the employment contract?

16h30 – Coffee break
17h00 – 8th Parallel Session:
Equality And Non-Discrimination In Digital Work

– Gender (in)equality in digital platforms?
– Digital work, equality and the reconciliation of professional life and private and family life.
– Digital era, employment and discrimination: is there a discriminatory algorithm?

17h00 – 9th Parallel Session:
Robotics, Automation And Employment Contract: Main Trends

– Human work and automation: future trends.
– Automation and technological unemployment: legal aspects.
– Artificial intelligence and the challenges to professional training.

17h00 – 10th Parallel Session (conducted in French):
The Algorithm And The Employment Contract
17h00 – 11th Parallel Session (conducted in Portuguese):
17h00 – 12th Parallel Session:
Presentation Of Papers
17h00 – 13th Parallel Session:
Presentation Of Papers

End of day

19h30 – Gala Dinner – Registration needed – Know more here!

September 4, 2020:


9h30 – 4th Plenary Session:
Work In A Digital Era, Human Rights And Personal Data Protection

– Digital work and employers’ powers: which limits?
– The digital era and personal data protection: case law.
– Digital work, fundamental rights and personality rights.

11h00 – Coffee break
11h30 – 5th Plenary Session:
Collective Action And Collective Bargaining In The Digital Era: Main Trends

– Digital work and trade unionism: can they go together?
– Digital work and collective bargaining, a new regulatory challenge?
– Digital work: a new task for social dialogue?

13h00 – Closing Session – General Assembly of the ISLSSL