For debate in the Standing Committee see Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure
Pour débat ŕ la Commission permanente – Voir article 15 du Rčglement
6 June 2000
Impact of new technologies on labour legislation
Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee
Rapporteur: Mr Claude Birraux, France, Group of the European People's Party
New communication and information technologies (NCIT) are one of the driving forces behind economic progress and employment, in particular with the development of e-commerce and teleworking. They have also revolutionised the working life, by changing working systems and methods, production processes, working conditions and also labour relations in firms, thereby challenging traditional methods of work organisation which are no longer adapted.
At the same time, NCITs generate new constraints for workers, undermine the protection of their rights. They also interfere with their private life.
The Assembly urges the member states to take account of the changes new technologies have wrought, to assess the effect they have on corporate life and the lives of workers, and to make sure that their development does not go hand in hand with a reduction in the protection to which they are entitled as regards working conditions and private life.
I. Draft resolution
1. New communication and information technologies (NCIT) are one of the driving forces behind economic progress in European countries and have a major impact on employment in terms of the creation of new products and services.
2. Insofar as NCITs affect all sectors of the economy and jobs, they have also revolutionised the working life, by changing working organisation, working systems and methods, production processes, working conditions and labour relations.
3. The rules laid down in most laws and collective agreements governing working life are out of date, based as they are on the concept of full-time work performed in a single workplace during set working hours.
4. Firms' growing recourse to new communication technologies, combined with the development of e-commerce and teleworking, have resulted in a new approach to the way work is organised, based on the concept of flexibility.
5. Teleworking, in particular, is work performed at a distance, sometimes in the home, and which consequently offers opportunities for conducting business outside the traditional workplace thus improving access to employment for people living in rural or isolated areas. It also offers workers the possibility of modulating their working hours so that they are more flexible and better suited to their family and personal life.
6. At the same time, however, these developments involving NCITs mean new constraints which it is important to assess insofar as they can sometimes lead to abuse or outright violation of human rights and the rights of workers. They include a blurring of the boundaries between work and private life, notably because of the possibility of increasing the amount of overtime and time spent on call, a potentially destabilising effect on family life, elastic working hours that it becomes difficult to quantify, the risk of a deterioration in the medical and healthcare monitoring of teleworkers, an increase in occupational diseases related to stress and pressure and the constant need for workers to update their skills, and teleworkers' isolation and inadequate corporate integration.
7. In addition, employers may be tempted to use NCITs to assess workers and monitor their behaviour rather than simply for the purposes for which they were originally intended. Such practices are a breach of workers' privacy and their personal rights.
8. New communication technologies increase the opportunities available to employers for violating their workers' privacy, making use of full-scale social monitoring in firms, by placing employees under electronic, audiovisual or computerised surveillance (eg. video surveillance, checking of e-mail or voice box content, monitoring of phone calls, holding of files on employees and data relating to their perceived career profile, personality, potential and state of health, assessment of the work actually done by employees, as well as their working hours, time spent travelling, and productivity. Surveillance methods include electronic badges, PAX systems, analysis of telephone calls, and log tracking, etc.
9. As a result of these facts, it is necessary to reconsider the rules and regulations on employment and on working conditions as laid down by the social partners in national collective agreements and national worker protection laws.
10. The Assembly therefore urges the member states to take account of the impact of new technologies on working life and the nature of the changes they have wrought, to assess the effect they have on corporate life and the lives of workers, and to make sure that their development does not go hand in hand with a reduction in the protection to which they are entitled.
11. It recommends that member states make the necessary statutory amendments to ensure that new and existing laws and regulations guarantee a high level of protection for workers and workers' rights, notably as regards
i. respect for workers' private lives and dignity:
a. by limiting the collection of personal data so that files compiled and kept by an employer are restricted to those that:
i. are strictly necessary for enabling the employment contract of the person in question to be fulfilled and for ensuring the employer's compliance with statutory obligations resulting from employment legislation or the rules on preventive medicine;
ii. make no reference to really personal or private data, particularly data relating to sex and sexual orientation, race, religion, political views, etc, and contain no medical data other than the results of check-ups performed by the works doctor;
iii. in any case, contain no unlawful data that might be used to justify an employee's transfer, reclassification or dismissal.
b. by placing employers under an obligation to respect the principle of transparency, in particular by:
i. guaranteeing employees the right to receive prior notice of the existence or creation of personal files or systems used to keep an eye on staff or monitor their productivity;
ii. requiring that employers seek their employees' prior and explicit consent to the firm's use of such monitoring systems and files;
iii. establishing the right of employees to have access to documents and to correct data contained in any files held on them;
iv. and their right to be informed of any personal data concerning them;
ii. respect for working conditions:
a. by guaranteeing employees or their representatives the right to be informed in advance of the introduction of new technologies that are likely to affect employees' working conditions, skills, pay or training;
b. by making sure employers provide for daily and weekly working hours that are reasonable in terms of their length, as well as a weekly or Sunday rest period and annual paid holidays, in accordance with the European Social Charter;
c. by making sure that the periods when staff are required to be on call do not, as such, or as a result of their frequency or duration, encroach upon an employee's private life by demanding an excessive degree of availability;
d. by bearing in mind the need to put a stop to the social isolation and marginalisation of teleworkers and to ensure that all employees maintain social ties with their firm;
e. by updating the components of employees' wages to take account of the conditions for performing work involving new technologies, in order to ensure that wages are fair and just;
f. by guaranteeing that employees' health is protected against the hazards and new illnesses caused by the use of new technologies, and that teleworkers undergo regular medical check-ups.
II. Explanatory memorandum by Mr Birraux
1. The past ten years have witnessed a boom in the new communication and information technologies (NCITs), i.e. all the computer, micro-electronic and telecommunication technologies used to collect, send, process and disseminate information. These technologies still have enormous potential, in terms of efficiency, speed and the cutting of times and distances, and they are spreading into the most diverse areas of commerce, industry and government. Fax machines, computers, mobile phones and the Internet - all of these are new, rapid, light and affordable means of communication which make it possible, with the help of cable or satellite relays, to cut costs and bridge distances. There are two sides to NCITs, depending on whether their commercial or non-commercial applications are being considered.
2. The development of digital technology is one of the driving forces behind economic progress, both in the West and in countries which have recently switched to a liberal economy. Indeed, acceptance of the market economy by the countries of central and eastern Europe has coincided with the growth of the new communication technologies.
3. So far, most governments and parliaments have considered the new communication and information technologies solely from the angle of safe storage, transfer and exchange of data on information networks, the aim being to safeguard industrial and intellectual property rights, to protect users and, in particular, ensure the confidentiality of information relating to individuals or their private lives and the security of financial transactions, and to combat illegal material and acts on the Web. The efforts of the lawmakers, sometimes in response to pressure from public opinion and consumer associations, have essentially led to generalised encoding.
4. By concentrating on this approach, however, the lawmakers have neglected labour protection. In fact, NCITs have also produced changes in the world of work.
A. A labour revolution
5. The new technologies are responsible for two kinds of innovation in the business world: innovations in production processes, organisation and working methods, and innovations resulting from new products and services. They are thus one of the main factors for structural change in the labour market, jobs, working conditions and labour relations.
6. The merging of computer and telecommunication technologies, and the growing sophistication and networking of data-processing, have led to changes in both the form (more intellectual tasks, greater skills required, greater independence) and content (relocation of workplaces, hierarchy, qualifications, hours worked, health, safety, etc.) of work. The first result of this labour revolution is that people are increasingly working with information, rather than physical objects. These technologies also require constant up-dating of skills. This is why realising the watershed nature of the new technologies' impact is less important today than grasping the actual nature of the changes they have wrought in the world of work.
7. This technological boom does not simply concern the manufacturers and suppliers of computer hardware and software or infrastructure (networks, optical fibres, terminals, etc.). There is hardly any occupational field - businesses, banks or public authorities - where professionals on all levels are not required to know about or use networked computers. In the mechanical production sector, specialised software is used in planning and executing manufacturing tasks. In the commercial sector, sales personnel and managers use computers as a matter of course in managing sales, stocks and orders. Indeed, the very notion of commerce has been revolutionised by teleshopping (particularly on cabled networks) and e-commerce. This technology is also present in high-added-value jobs (many of which it has actually spawned), for example in the transport, audiovisual and mass marketing sectors.
8. E-commerce - the selling of products, equipment and consumer goods and services (information, financial, legal, etc.) via telecommunication networks, such as the Internet, TV or Minitel - is a major economic factor in promoting growth and employment. This sector has taken off spectacularly with the rise of the Internet, both for electronic trading between firms, especially small and medium-sized firms, and electronic trading involving consumers1.
9. The NCITs are also closely associated with new ways of organising work, based on the concept of flexibility. Their own flexibility and adaptability leave them at odds with the old notion of full-time work with set working hours. In firms, they have gone hand in hand with the reorganisation of working time - flexible hours, the introduction of choice in working hours and teleworking. They make it possible to redistribute work, lighten tasks and eliminate drudgery, but they do not reduce the work effort, since new constraints come with them.
10. The digital revolution is itself revolutionising labour by changing the nature of work and the way people do it. It is estimated that, in the year 2000, 60% of the US workforce will be using the new technologies as employees, teleworkers, members of the independent professions, business executives, etc. Work is no longer governed by the old parameters - a single workplace in a single location, a set number of hours worked, collective organisation of work, and so on.
11. The NCITs have also given rise to teleworking - with work being done at a distance (often at home) by employees using computers and/or telecommunication facilities, who send in the results without actually moving themselves2. Put simply, teleworking is a way of bringing work to the workers, and not workers to the work. This arrangement has many advantages: by shifting the workplace to the home, it helps workers to strike a better balance between working and private life, it gives them greater independence and increased responsibility, and it also means lower costs for employers. Thanks to the telephone and the computer, teleworking makes it possible to stretch the workplace beyond the firm's premises
to the worker's home. Ultimately, teleworkers can decide for themselves whether to live and work at home or in the office, whether to combine working and family life, and whether to opt for a lifestyle change by "relocating" to the countryside.
12. But teleworking also changes the pattern of social relations at work and isolates teleworkers from colleagues and superiors by reducing their direct contacts with their firms. Teleworking does not promote a company culture.
13. Useful and reliable as they are, these technologies have other adverse effects which are easily pinpointed too. They force the people on whom they are imposed to rethink their lifestyles, and tend to blur the boundaries between working and private life when attendance requirements are dropped and workers are kept on call at a distance or allowed to work in their family environment. This challenges the rules which traditionally govern the world of work (time, place, leave, attendance requirements, etc.). The way in which work is organised under collective agreements, which are still based on the concept of working hours, is rendered obsolete by the NCITs.
14. The authorities must ensure that the rise of the NCITs does not lead to a systematic decline in labour protection standards, and that commercial, civil and labour law is amended as necessary. Even if the world of work is changing all the time, it is up to national law-makers to respond to the fundamental problems inherent in use of the new technologies and to regulate the rights and obligations of employers and employees.
15. How could social rights stay the same? Given the changes produced by the new technologies, it is important, firstly, to decide whether, and how far, their development has prejudiced the fundamental rights of individuals and workers, and secondly to propose the changes in national law which are needed to maintain a high level of protection of individual and collective rights and freedoms.
16. In January 1997, the Parliamentary Assembly addressed the question of the new technologies and employment (Beaufays Report – Doc. 7719) and pinpointed, in Recommendation 1314, the NCITs' positive and negative effects on employment in Europe3.
17. States have a duty to protect, not only the interests of consumers in connection with the network economy and e-commerce, but also those of workers, and to amend their legislation for this purpose. Establishing a clear and stable regulatory framework is a matter for governments alone. States still have an essential role to play in adapting laws and regulations promptly, removing any obstacles caused by inappropriate texts and practices, and so enabling employers and employees to make the most of the new opportunities.
B. Use of the new technologies by workers: ensuring respect for labour protection principles (hours worked, health, remuneration, unemployment, etc.)
18. The growth of these new technologies depends on constant innovation and on major research and development efforts, and the flexibility this requires may be at variance with labour law, or with bureaucratic recruitment or career practices in both the public and private sectors.
19. Only some ten years ago, labour law was still largely based on the principle of the worker's physical presence in the firm, and fixed working hours laid down in the labour contract. The boundary between work and private life was clearly drawn. The NCITs are revolutionising that picture.
1. Flexible working time
20. In terms of effort, the new forms of employment often require more involvement from workers than old-style jobs, which are usually confined to hours worked in the workplace. The new technologies bring with them a new approach to management, which insists on round-the-clock availability.
21. For instance, some of the regulations on trading do not necessarily apply to all e-commerce operations. Internet shoppers, for example, have year-round, 24-hour access to shops, whereas national labour law insists on weekly or Sunday rest. Hence the need to ensure that the principle of equality of workers before the law is respected in this area.
22. Article 2 of the 1961 European Social Charter guarantees the right to just conditions of work and specifically requires Contracting Parties "1. to provide for reasonable daily and weekly working hours (…); 2. to provide for public holidays with pay; 3. to provide for a minimum of two weeks annual holiday with pay [four weeks pursuant to Article 2 of the revised Charter]; (…); 5. to ensure a weekly rest period which shall, as far as possible, coincide with the day recognised by tradition or custom in the country or region concerned as a day of rest."
23. Working time is an essential element in labour contracts, with a marked effect on wages. Real working time becomes harder to assess with NCIT-based employment.
24. Real working time may be defined as the time during which employees are at their employers' disposal, must obey orders, and may not go about their own business. Presence at the workplace is automatically monitored, but teleworkers cannot be supervised. This may leave them free to organise their own timetables, but - depending on how much work has to be done within a given period - it may also prove a disadvantage. Employers may also find it hard to define and give credit for overtime, and this may be another drawback for workers.
2. The obligation to be on call
25. The growth of the NCITs also makes it possible to generalise the practice of keeping employees on call outside normal working hours. Having to stay at home or nearby, so that one can work when requested to do so, constitutes a constraint. Time spent on call is not real working time, but is not time off either. Employees on call are still under their employer's orders. To this extent, the NCITs make it easier for working and private life to overlap, and for the former to interfere with the latter.
26. On-call arrangements are nothing new, of course, but the NCITs encourage their use and generalisation. For example, a firm which buys mobile phones for its executives or other employees can reach them anywhere, at any time - even at weekends or when they are on leave - and call on their services. They can thus be contacted for reasons other than emergencies or safety, the only ones for which they should be called at such times.
27. For employees, however, the advantage of being on call is not being obliged to stay at home. With mobile phones or pagers, they can also be reached outside, without risking a reprimand from their employers. Being on call has become less restrictive for employees, who are no longer tied to one place, and this makes it easier to arrange.
28. Since the employment situation in many countries is putting pressure on workers, employers cannot be left to determine their contractual obligations. National law should stipulate that labour contracts must expressly state that employees may occasionally have to stay on call, impose strict limits on the frequency and length of such periods, so as to comply with the European Social Charter, and even provide for specific remuneration for hours spent on call, as well as their inclusion when compensatory leave is being calculated. Any restrictions imposed on individual rights and on individual and collective freedoms by labour contracts and company regulations must be strictly limited to those justified by the nature of the work, and must be proportional to the aim sought.
29. For the above reasons, a growing number of employees can no longer be paid on the basis of working time, which is now hard to quantify. Many teleworkers are paid by the page or by the task. Workers are treated as service-providers by their firms, and a commercial-style relationship sometimes tends to replace the old employer/employee relationship.
30. Article 4 of the European Social Charter recognises the right of workers to "an increased rate of remuneration for overtime work". Consideration must be given to updating certain aspects of remuneration to allow for working conditions in jobs that rely on the new technologies (remuneration in respect of increased availability; allowances to cover teleworkers' operating expenses, etc.).
31. Payment of workers for discoveries, inventions and innovations they produce with the help of NCITs at the workplace and during working hours is a special problem. Whether the issue is literary and artistic property, or industrial property and patentable inventions, it now seems essential that labour contracts should specify, in accordance with national and international law, who owns such discoveries and inventions (the employer or, in exceptional cases, the employee), what happens to any profits, and any financial compensation which the employee may receive.
4. Health protection
32. Health protection in connection with the rise of the NCITs is a question which has several facets. Firstly, new physical and mental health hazards have appeared, and not enough is being done to prevent the new illnesses caused by the use of NCITs (computers, mobile phones, etc.) at work. These new occupational illnesses - stress, eye- strain, nervous fatigue, backache, stress of having to accommodate to changes in the working conditions and lifestyles, etc. - are at present greatly underestimated. Secondly, the new working arrangements make it harder to monitor the health of workers who are no longer physically present at the workplace. Specifically, there should be better medical surveillance of salaried teleworkers.
33. Industrial injuries are injuries sustained by employees as a result of, or during, their work - and are thus connected with execution of the labour contract. If an employee is physically present in the firm or at a decentralised worksite (building site, teleworking centre, etc.), then an injury sustained while working is undoubtedly an industrial injury. But what about home-based teleworkers? An injury counts as industrial if it is sustained during working hours and at the workplace. This is why it is important to amend the law to ensure that the labour contract treats the home as a workplace.
34. In the same way, employers may well be very tempted to get employees on sick leave to do or complete work at home - on lap-top computers, for example.
5. Integration in the working environment
35. The NCITs are also revolutionising social interaction and working relations by "virtualising" relations with bosses, colleagues, customers and business partners.
36. This being so, and especially since the new technologies seem to be putting an end to mass employment, questions are having to be asked about the wage-earning society's future and the possibility of concluding collective agreements which are not based on the collective organisation of work. Ultimately, the new technologies raise the question of the firm's meaning as a place where people work and social bonds are forged.
37. The NCITs make it possible to establish work-stations wholly outside the firm's premises, isolating employees - particularly teleworkers and home workers - in ways which many find hard to accept, and cutting them off from the working community (colleagues, staff representatives, trade unions, etc.). Less in touch with the life of the firm, these out-workers may eventually find themselves marginalised, since they can no longer take part in trade union or works council activities, the daily exchange of information between colleagues or the taking of decisions on (better) working conditions.
38. In the same way, although the NCITs have the advantage of making it possible to create more teleworking jobs for disabled persons at home, they cannot meet their desire to be more fully, and genuinely, integrated in the working world.
39. The world of work cannot be confined to a network of virtual relations. This is why the companies concerned must try to promote full integration of all their employees by making greater efforts to keep them informed (via the Internet, e-mail and electronic in-house newsletters), maintaining a minimum of personal contacts (regular meetings at company headquarters, etc.) and, for example, encouraging them to work at two locations (regularly alternating between the office and the home).
6. Protection in cases of dismissal
40. The rapid development of NCIT-based forms of work demands flexibility and the capacity to acquire new skills. Here, worker protection must be guaranteed on at least two levels: firstly, by providing ongoing training to help staff master the use of increasingly sophisticated equipment4; and, secondly, by protecting the interests of staff who lack the necessary flexibility or have been dismissed, following misuse by employers of computer files containing personal data (see paragraphs 50 to 52).
41. In government and public service bodies in many countries, as in private firms and large groups, the appearance and development of NCITs has led to far-reaching structural changes, entailing dismissals, elimination of posts, new training programmes, etc. Constant changes on the NCIT scene call for ever greater adaptability on the part of firms and employees. Workers are quickly regarded as "obsolete", and specific measures must be taken to protect them when their labour contracts end, guaranteeing not only compensation but also training and reclassification.
42. The abuses to which NCITs have given rise in the world of work are a threat to workers' rights. Hence the current need to ensure that firms define their employees' working conditions clearly, and comply strictly with labour codes and labour laws, particularly in the matter of working time and wages. Employees' private lives must also be protected.
C. Use of the new technologies by employers: guaranteeing respect for the private lives of workers
43. The new technologies meet the modern world's needs. One should not indulge in prophecies of doom, but violations of privacy are increasingly an issue, and a highly topical aspect of employer/employee relations. Firms determine their employees' working environment, but the explosive growth of teleworking, and the widespread use of mobile phones, computers, video surveillance and all the other new technologies are blurring the boundary between professional and private life.
44. The rise of the new communication and information technologies has resulted in a system of full-scale social monitoring of the individual. Respect for privacy may be violated in firms, which have electronic and computer-based means of keeping an eye on their workers, and can set up computer files containing any type of information.
45. In fact, NCITs are being used even before employees join firms. Recruitment itself relies on the use of special computer software and programs - expert systems – which work out candidate profiles for posts on the basis of set criteria, and then devise batteries of tests to assess applicants' personalities and match them with the profile. These tests are themselves computer-assessed, and applicants reply on screen to hundreds of questions which measure them against the firm's criteria. Those who give the “wrong” answers are automatically discarded. The reliability of these systems is questionable, and it is also doubtful whether they are compatible with the standards which should govern recruitment, such as the principle of non-discrimination.
46. In many countries, there is a real legislative vacuum in this area. In France, these practices contravene the law (Sections 2 and 3 of the Act of 6 January 1978 on data processing, files and liberties), which gives people the right to be informed, not only of the nature of the information collected, but also of the "reasoning behind computer-based operations”, and prohibits decisions based solely on this kind of personality assessment. These practices raise ethical problems - all the more serious for the fact that computer-based tests are increasingly used, not just for recruitment, but also later, for in-house transfers, reclassification, career guidance and even dismissals.
47. The new technologies also open the way to computer and audiovisual surveillance by employers. Video cameras, electronic badges, computers, e-mail access and telephone monitoring enable them to check what staff are doing, keep a close watch on how they use their time, and above all monitor their productivity. Complaints by employees concerning the introduction of controlled access systems based on electronic badges or the installation of cameras are proliferating. Badges can be used to monitor presence at work and hence productivity. Some employers also use video surveillance in an effort to prevent, detect or prove staff misconduct.
48. As for productivity, special surveillance systems monitor the work of staff in direct contact with machines (computer operators, typists, switchboard operators, assembly line workers), automatically recording their output. There are also computerised systems which measure the actual time spent at the workstation, or on the production line, computer or telephone, and which indicate non-productive periods, absences and breaks, allowing the employer to see how much work each employee is doing.
49. Computerised pay slips and staff records enable employers to construct absenteeism profiles and record reasons for absence - which is tantamount to keeping personal data on staff, when the reasons for absence are medical.
50. Firms also have the technology needed, not only to monitor work, but also to spy on employees - particularly their e-mail and telephone conversations. Technically, it is possible for employers to read or censor e-mail. In the same way, computerised telephone switchboards make it possible to note, not only the numbers called by staff at work, but also the time they spend on the premises. If switchboard, personal data file and server are linked, arrival and departure times can be recorded and data on absenteeism stored.
51. Lastly, the increasing use of NCITs in the private sector has revived the concern first voiced in the 1970s regarding files on staff. There have been several cases involving firms which have kept computer files on the character, motivation, shortcomings and health of employees.
52. Usually, these abuses cause outrage among employees. Ultimately, many fear that employers may use the personal and productivity data they collect to justify dismissals. This is why it is important to control the spread of all these systems strictly, and so prevent violations of employees' privacy.
53. The national legislation of the member states should thus, in accordance with the European Social Charter and international data protection standards, recognise and effectively guarantee the exercise of the following rights:
– the right of employees (or their representatives) to be informed in advance of the introduction of any new technologies which are likely to affect the employment, qualifications, remuneration, training or working conditions of staff;
– the right of all employees to inspect daily and weekly output and working hours records, and obtain copies;
– the right of employees to be informed in advance of the existence or introduction of any system which controls access or monitors productivity, the nature of the system and the frequency with which it is used;
– where appropriate, the right of employees to veto the use of such control systems by firms;
– the right to inspect and rectify data in any personal file.
54. The Council of Europe as a whole, and the Parliamentary Assembly in particular, have in the past produced a considerable number of recommendations on data protection. The Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data of 28 January 1981 defines the general principles of such protection and specifies in Article 5 that "personal data […] shall be: […] obtained and processed fairly and lawfully". Recommendation No. R (89) 2 of the Committee of Ministers on the protection of personal data used for employment purposes established principles designed to protect privacy and human dignity of employees in the collection, storage, use and communication of personal data.
55. Also relevant here is Directive 97/66/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 15 December 1997 concerning the harmonisation of the provisions of the Member States required to ensure an equivalent level of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, and in particular the right to privacy, with respect to the processing of personal data in the telecommunication sector and to ensure the free movement of such data and of telecommunication equipment and services in the Community. This clarifies and complements Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data5.
D. International measures
56. The development of the new communication and information technologies clearly needs to be seen in the current context of globalisation. The appropriate international bodies (OECD, WTO, ILO, European Union, etc.) are giving these issues their attention, and the result should be the adoption of harmonised rules and "good conduct codes". For a long time, discussion of the whole question of regulations has been dominated by the disagreement between the supporters of self-regulation (by the private sector), who doubt whether governments can react fast enough to a rapidly changing environment, and fear that over-regulation may stifle technological development, and those who favour public regulation (by governments).
57. The final declarations adopted by the 29 participants at the OECD conference "A borderless world: realising the potential of global electronic commerce" (held in Ottawa from 7 to 9 October 1998) recognised, however, that governments and the private sector must work together on establishing a normative framework.
58. The European Union is trying hard to promote the development of new economic activities and electronic commerce, while also seeking to set up a European framework in this field, and co-ordinate policies and regulations at European level. For example, a report for the European Commission on "Content and Commerce-driven Strategies in Global Networks" addresses some employment-related questions and recommends making labour laws and employment policies more flexible in connection with the network economy, because of the speed at which it develops.
59. The impact of the new technologies on labour legislation raises a number of questions, which are rendered all the more important by the fact that social realities in the 41 member states are, to say the least of it, varied. Ultimately, the development of the NCITs in the countries of central and eastern Europe seems more worrying from the standpoint of labour protection, since some of these countries have yet to make basic changes in their labour laws. Few are party to the European Social Charter.
60. Moreover, social relations in firms - and indeed the whole concept of the firm - need to be rethought, bearing in mind the need to maintain social ties between employees within firms, and also their right to be informed and consulted.
Reporting committee: Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee
Budgetary implications: none
Reference to committee: Doc. 7936, Reference No. 2244 of 26 January 1998
Draft resolution unanimously adopted by the committee on 6 April 2000
Members of the committee: Mr. Cox (Chairman), Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, Mr. Hegyi, Mrs Gatterer (Vice-Chairs), Mrs Albrink , MM. Alis Font, Arnau, Mrs Belohorská, Mrs Biga-Friganovic, Mrs Björnemalm, Mrs Böhmer, MM. Cesário, Christodoulides, Chyzh, Dees, Dhaille, Duivesteijn, Evin, Flynn (Alternate: Mr. Vis), Gamzatova, Gibula, Glesener, Gregory, Ms Gülek, MM. Gusenbauer, Gustafsson, Haack, Hancock, Mrs Hřegh, Mr. Hrebenciuc, Mrs Jirousová, Mr. Kalos, Ms Lakhova, Mrs Laternser, Mr. Liiv, Mrs Lotz, Mrs Luhtanen, M. Lupu, Mrs Markovska, MM. Marmazov, Martelli, Marty, Mattei, Monfils, Mozgan, Mularoni, Ouzky (Alternate: M. Kroupa), Mrs Paegle, Mrs Poptodorova, Mrs Pozza Tasca, Mrs Pulgar, MM. Raskinis, Rizzi, Santkin, Skoularikis, Mrs Stefani, MM. Surján, Tahir, Telek, Troncho, Vella (Alternate: Mr. Debono Grech), Mrs Vermot-Mangold (Alternate: Mr. Gross), MM. Volodin, Voronin, Wójcik
NB: The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.
Secretaries to the committee: Mr Dronov a.i., Mrs Meunier and Mrs Clamer
1 The IDC's European Survey predicts that turnover from e-commerce between businesses in Europe of the Twelve will rise from 204.6 million dollars in 1996 to nearly 14.2 billion dollars in 2001; the figure for business-to-customer transactions will go from 133.2 million dollars to 10.7 billion dollars over the same period.
There are few statistics on the number of teleworkers in Europe, and these are based on different definitions. A 1994 study by the German institute Empirica produced the following figures: 560,000 teleworkers in the United Kingdom and 215,000 in France, with Germany, Spain and Italy lagging far behind.
The penetration rate for teleworking in the private sector stood at 7.4% in the United Kingdom, 7% in France, 4.8% in Germany, 3.6% in Spain and 2.2% in Italy.
In particular, the Assembly invited the governments of the member States to "set up an appropriate framework for industrial dialogue and collective bargaining adapted to the new working methods introduced by the new ICTs, taking special account of the following factors:
a. social relationships must be remodelled to avoid dangers of exclusion or fragmentation of the community as a result of the current developments; public authorities must monitor this carefully;
b. the traditionally vertical pattern of professional sectors and branches, determining social relations, but no longer corresponding to the new reality, must be reviewed and rectified;
c. the new jobs and duties created by the ICTs, such as teleworking, working in virtual teams, and so on, must be given a clear and stable status, and their effects on company and family life must be studied."
4 Training workers to use new technologies is a special question, which the Committee will be taking up shortly in a separate report (rapporteur: Ms Poptodorova).
5 Article 15 of the Directive states that "Member States shall grant the right to every person not to be subject to a decision which produces legal effects concerning him or significantly affects him and which is based solely on automated processing of data intended to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to him, such as his performance at work, creditworthiness, reliability, conduct, etc".