The issue of worker's data rights is becoming increasingly important as new technologies are widely used at the workplace.
The advent of the digital in all spheres of life has meant the slow but sure transformation of the institutional relations of work. We are witness to a new regime of algorithmic optimisation and the aggregation of worker data footprints allows for a new form of control over the labour process that is unprecedented.
Data-based tracking, profiling, and workplace decision-making stemming from algorithmic control risk a major slide-back of foundational labour guarantees. They also intensify workplace discrimination and the entrenchment of socio-structural hierarchies of race, class, caste, gender and geography in global labour markets, including guarantees against workplace harassment and violence.
Decent work guarantees focus on fair wages, social protection, equal opportunities at work, and right to organise, and in the digital economy, overlap significantly with data and the value it generates. As such, without an emphasis on data rights, including how algorithms monitor workers through apps and other surveillance mechanisms, workers are left powerless in the rapidly digitalising workplace. These issues need to be addressed.