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Fundamental labour rights, platform work and protection of human rights protection of non-standard workers

The spread of non-standard forms of employment in industrialised and developing countries over the last decades has prompted an extensive debate on how to reshape labour regulation to accommodate these new formats. However, limited attention has been devoted to the access of non-standard workers to fundamental labour rights. This chapter aims at reorienting the debate towards these neglected dimensions of labour regulation. In particular, it focuses on the risks affecting work in the so-called ‘gig’ or ‘platform’ economy, since the relative novelty of these forms of work may obscure the difficulties these workers face in enjoying fundamental labour rights. Platform workers, together with casual workers and some self-employed workers not only are more exposed to violations of fundamental rights but are also often excluded from the legal scope of application of these rights, which are sometimes reserved to workers in an employment relationship. This is particularly true for collective labour rights, as self-employed workers, including sham self-employed persons and platform workers, who are often deprived of full access to the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. This happens, for instance, when their collective activities are found to be in breach of antitrust regulation. This chapter maintains that preventing self-employed workers who do not own a genuine and significant business organisation from bargaining collectively is at odds with the recognition of the right to collective bargaining as a human and a fundamental right. Consequently, it argues that only self-employed individuals who do not provide ‘labour’ but instead provide services using an independent, genuine and significant business organisation that they own and manage can have their right to bargain collectively restricted.


Citation: Published by: Labour, Business and Human Rights Law, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd
Editors: Bellace, J. R. & Ter Haar, B.