Digital technologies have contributed to new business models and new forms of non-standard employment like crowdwork and work on demand via apps. The changing world of work with new work patterns is calling into question the standard employment relationship as the basis for the social security system and widening the existing gaps in coverage and protection. The demand for social protection is increasing while the feasibility of social insurance systems is weakened.
Social protection in the changing world of work is already the subject of a wide range of sociological, economic and political studies and publications, whereas social law is just getting its research in this field underway. The project seeks to fill this gap and is based on two innovative points. First, it concentrates on a social law perspective. The project undertakes an analysis of the impact of labour market changes in the digital age on social security law and addresses the challenges to social security which arise through these changes by putting emphasis on platform work. Second, the project takes a holistic approach that systematises new insights concerning the future of social protection in the digital age. As this approach is based on a legal comparison and includes transnational perspectives, the undertaking is at the same time a contribution to the more general topic of how welfare states develop and sheds light on a common European core of the concept of welfare state. The overall aim of the project is to provide new insights on what a “Social Law 4.0” should look like.
The whole undertaking focuses on the two most important questions in the context of social protection in a digitalised world, which point at the same time to the two most urgent problems raised by the consequences of digitalisation for the labour market: access to social protection and its future financing. In so doing, it seeks to examine innovations: solutions and mechanisms for ensuring social security and those for financing social security. In this regard, different national approaches are analysed in a comparative perspective. Although it is first and foremost the task of states to adjust their social protection systems, transborder issues will become even more important in the digital age. Therefore, the project includes the present and future role of the European Union.
In the framework of the project an international conference was organised and held at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich from 12 to 13 December 2019. The event was supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. As the main output of this research project, an edited volume was published at the end of 2020 by Nomos.