On behalf of the organisers of the Department of Labour Law and Social Insurance at the Institute of Legal Studies of the College of Social Sciences of the University of Rzeszów, the Department of Labour Law at the Institute of Legal Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Labour Law and Social Policy, we invite you to participate in the II International Scientific Conference –”Around the notion of employee and employer” which will be held on 5-6 October 2021 at the University of Rzeszów.
The second of the cyclical academic conferences devoted to the current problems
and challenges of labour law will focus on the basic concepts of labour law which determine its subjective scope – the concept of “employee” and “employer”. The organisers of the Conference aim to answer the question about the need to redefine these concepts in the face of the phenomenon of “subjective weakening” and “loss of subjective scope“” of labour law in terms of such processes taking place in the modern world as globalisation of the economy, striving for ever more flexibility of participants in economic turnover, and development of modern technologies.
The abovementioned phenomena have left their mark on the manner and forms of providing work. This results in the development of forms of employment which deviate (gradually more) from the ‘typical’ employment model, in which work is provided on the basis of a contract of employment for an indefinite period of time, full-time, at the employer’s premises, in a fixed, regular time frame, in a relationship of strict and hierarchical subordination to the management of the employer. The new forms of employment indicated are characterised by irregularity in terms of time, place and manner of providing work (remote work, teleworking, on-demand work, interrupted work, work under zero-hour contracts), involve modern technologies (remote work, work provided via Internet platforms or telephone applications), are based on a tripartite relationship (temporary work, outsourcing, work at the request of the ‘client’ via digital platforms or Internet applications), are characterised by a far-reaching freedom of the employee in terms of the manner of providing work (the employee is in a relationship of so-called autonomous subordination to the employer). Employment under the new forms of employment, due to its ‘atypicality’, escapes the classic legal qualification of the employment relationship determining the subjective scope of labour law.
The development of new, atypical forms of employment is accompanied by the emergence of a category of employees who, formally not being employees due to the lack of subordination in its traditional approach, are in a situation similar to that of an employee due to their dependence (economic, social, psychological) on their counterparty. The abovementioned changes in the way the employment relationship is provided, which aim at greater flexibility of the employment relationship, affect the way in which the employee’s subordination is treated, whose intensity, as a constitutive feature of the employment relationship, is gradually weakened. Acceptance of the view in favour of the evolution of workers’ subordination towards ‘autonomous subordination’ blurs the boundary between ‘worker’ and ‘independent contractor’ and, consequently, between employment under employment contract and civil law contract. Difficulties in determining the borderline between the indicated legal regimes for the provision of work encourage the phenomenon of concluding civil law contracts solely for the purpose of depriving employees of protection under labour law.
In national legislation, the personal scope of labour law is defined by the ‘traditional’ concept of an employment relationship. At the same time, there is a tendency to include categories of dependent employees (“employee-like” workers, “parasubordinated“, “dependent contractors”) and to include this group of employees in protective regulations. The breakdown of the binary division into employed persons and non-employed persons is present in judicial case law, including in particular in the case law of the EU Court of Justice. This group of employees and those employed in new, unusual forms of employment in many cases remains outside the protection of labour law. The need to extend the scope of labour law to employees who, because of their weaker position vis-à-vis the employer, need protection remains an open question and a challenge for national and EU legislators.
The development of forms of employment based on a tripartite relationship (employed – employing entity – entity benefiting from the employee’s work) raises the question of who in a specific case is the employer, with whom the employee remains in an employment relationship? and, as a result, by whom are the obligations arising from the employment relationship with the employee borne? In this context, it is quite a challenge to identify the ’employer’ in complex legal organisational structures such as, for example, a holding company or a capital group, especially for cross-border entities.
In these circumstances, the question is: “Who is (should be) an employee?” and “Who is (should be) an employer?”, which is essential during the period of labour legislation formation, reappears in the context of the realisation of the right to decent work. A reference to the well known assumption that: “Work is not a commodity” in the “Declaration on the centenary of the International Labour Organisation for the future of work”, shows that the perception of work as a commodity is still current and is becoming an even greater challenge for modern academia and labour law legislation.
Participating in the Conference will be scientists representing Polish and foreign research centres, journalists, political decision-makers and other people interested in the issue of new forms of employment.
The Conference will be transmitted online (on the Conference website www.labourlaw.ur.edu.pl, on the Conference website on Facebook.com and on Twitter and recorded, and after the Conference, the broadcasts from all panels will be placed on the Internet channel: YouTube.com and distributed on DVDs to selected academic libraries in Poland.