Our bi-monthly DiPLab online seminar will welcome Nastazja Potocka-Sionek (European University Institute, Florence) and Antonio Aloisi (IE Law School, Madrid) for a session entitled De-gigging the labour market? Microwork, digital platforms and algorithmic management.

The seminar will be held in hybrid form, both at Telecom Paris and online on the platform Big Blue Button. To receive the link, please register by sending an email with your full name and affiliation at: contact@diplab.eu.

Platform work continues to represent a ‘social dilemma’ for workers, social partners, policymakers and society as a whole. As a result of intense litigation, analysis and reporting, much is known about the contractual and working conditions in this growing labour market segment.

The first presentation will focus on microworkers, highly precarious, often ‘invisible’ workers whose labour is pivotal for the development of artificial intelligence (AI). It will analyse how the work of globally dispersed workers annotating data is organised through such crowdwork platforms as Amazon Mechanical Turk, Appen and Clickworker. It will argue that this kind of work is performed in a highly structured, yet nontransparent way, and is subject to substantial algorithmic control. It will address the question of the employment classification of formally independent microworkers, and will discuss whether the proposed Directive on improving working conditions in the platform economy is an effective instrument to govern this type of work.

The overarching goal of the second presentation will be to explore the lessons that can be drawn from recent policies and legal developments. The main outcomes of litigation and regulation at the domestic level will be presented and reviewed, touching upon the trends and initiatives in Spain, Italy and France. It will also discuss the European Commission’s proposal for a new Directive on improving working conditions in the platform economy, by addressing the limitations of the mechanisms for triggering the presumption of employment status. Particular emphasis will be put on the measures to regulate algorithmic management, a set of practices that result in the partial or full automation of employers’ functions, which represent one of the most prominent legacies of gig work.

Nastazja Potocka-Sionek is a PhD candidate in law at the European University Institute in Florence. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the regulatory challenges posed by digital models of labour organisation. More broadly, her research interests lie in international, European and comparative labour law. She holds a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of Łódź (2015), an LL.M. in German Law from the University of Münster (2017), and an LL.M. in Comparative, European and International Laws from the European University Institute (2018). She worked as an intern at the International Labour Organisation in the Labour Law and Reform Unit (2019/2020).

Antonio Aloisi is Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow and Assistant Professor of European and Comparative Labour Law at IE Law School, Madrid, Spain. Before joining IE University, he was a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy. He holds a PhD in Business and Social Law from Bocconi University, Milan, Italy (2018). Antonio’s research focuses on the impact of digital innovation on labour regulation and social institutions in the European Union and beyond. The aim of his Boss Ex Machina project, which has received funding from the EU Horizon 2020 programme, is to map practices of algorithmic decision-making and assess the adequacy of existing legal frameworks when it comes to enabling sustainable data-driven workplaces. Co-author of Your Boss is an Algorithm. Artificial Intelligence, Platform Work and Labour (Hart Publishing, with Valerio De Stefano).