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Corporate Legal Accountability Annual Briefing - The Future of Work: Litigating Labour Relationships in the Gig Economy

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Published on: 25 March 2019

The world of work is changing, and lawyers have a key role to play in shaping its future. The rise of new business models using smartphone technology, along with companies’ habitual drive to keep labour costs low, are combining to make work more precarious, temporary and irregular. However, this is increasingly being challenged in the courts, as workers file lawsuits against their employers’ attempts to misclassify them as independent contractors, thus denying them the basic labour rights and protections afforded to employees...

As a result, an increasing number of non-conventional workers are attempting to assert their labour rights in courtrooms, suing employers to redress grievances and improve working conditions. These lawsuits, brought in jurisdictions around the globe, create important opportunities to develop new employment standards through caselaw. Courtrooms are playing an increasingly important role in clarifying, interpreting, and defining new labour relationships, critically testing legal norms against labour realities, and prompting governments to amend and fill the gaps in existing legislation.  

2018 was a year of key victories but also major defeats for workers. As detailed in the report and the overview of lawsuits annexed to it, courts around the world have used different criteria and come to different conclusions about whether workers have been misclassified by the companies they are suing...

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