How digital work is seeing new regulations in Colombia

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This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

The recent controversy about the order of the Court II of appeals of the Buenos Aires justice to block the Uber site and app deserves an analysis of the model of protection of rights at work in the collaborative economy.

The debate around the framing of workers of the so-called digital economy in the categories of labor protection given the complexities of business models, has determined the informality that currently characterizes work in the so-called collaborative economy.

At the end of 2018, the International Labor Organization (ILO) presented the report "Digital platforms and the future of work", which recommends, among other measures: i) Grant an adequate status to workers; ii) Allow this type of workers to exercise their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining; iii) Guarantee the applicable minimum wage of the country of residence of the workers; iv) Ensure transparency in payments and fees charged by the platforms; v) Ensure that workers can reject tasks, among others.

In the same sense, in the document of the Department of Economic and Scientific Policy of the European Parliament "The Social Protection of Workers in the Economy of Platforms" indicates the risk of progressive exclusion from the scope of labor and social protection of workers who provide services to digital platforms: "The key issue in relation to labor legislation and social protection is the growth in the number of people excluded from protection due to the classification of platform workers as self-employed workers."

Notwithstanding the exclusion of the working relationship from the business models that derive from the digital platforms, the labor authorities have been recognizing these workers as false self-employed, due to the lack of independence in the management of work management, the fixing of the tariff, the control of the platform through surveys to the final client about the quality of service, the freedom of dismissal from the disconnection of the connection for the provision of the service.

In England, the Court of Appeals ratified on December 19, 2018, the decision to recognize working relationship between a driver and the Uber company taking into consideration criteria such as availability despite the argument of freedom of acceptance of the services defended by the company, which discarded the English Court: "Even if drivers are not required to accept all or even 80% of travel requests, the high level of acceptances required and the penalty of being disconnected if three consecutive requests are not accepted within within ten seconds justify the conclusion that drivers are waiting for a reservation at their disposal."

In the same sense, the European Court of Justice in the case C-434/15 by ruling of December 20, 2017 ruled out the thesis proposed by Uber to be considered as a collaborative digital platform considering it a company that provides a service in the transport field.

The initiative to regulate work in digital platforms in Colombia framed in the project of law 082 of 2018 to regulate digital work in Colombia, is focused on the protection of a new category of economically dependent digital workers who earn a salary of more than 2 salaries minimum, explicitly respecting the principle of primacy of reality, a new distribution of charges in terms of contribution to social security, civil assurance of digital work and guarantees for the realization of the right of association.

The National Development Plan incorporated in Article 348 the authorization to the National Government in the portfolios of Work, Health, Finance and Information Technology and Communications to formulate a public policy that allows, among others, to characterize the conditions of service provision and the modalities of protection and social security that can be generated from the use of these applications and platforms.

Regarding the intervention strategies for the regulation of digital work in Colombia, respect for the protection of the employment relationship and the principle of primacy of reality must be included in harmony with the provisions of ILO Recommendation 198, coverage of social risks through affiliation to the Integral Social Security System and the guarantee of the instruments that guarantee the realization of freedom of association of digital workers.

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

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Simon Baker is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Online Marketplaces and Property Portal Watch. Involved with property portals for 15 years, he’s a well-recognized expert and industry consultant.
As former CEO/MD of the REA Group for 8 years, Simon led the group to its current market-leading position. When he joined REA Group in 2001, it had $4m in revenues, $6m in losses and an $8m market cap.
By 2008, the company presided over $155m in revenues, $35m in EBITDA and enjoyed a peak market cap of $1b. Simon is currently Chairman of the Mitula Group and Real Estate Investar and a serial portal founder and, investor.