In Europe, Spain is paving the way for regulating artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic systems. As part of the EU AI act, Spain has launched the first regulatory sandbox to facilitate experimentation of the rules in a controlled environment. In addition, Spain’s Royal Decree-Law 9/2021 (RDL 9/2021), so-called the rider-law, amends the Workers' Statute to safeguard the labour rights of delivery workers whose work is coordinated through digital platforms.
The law, which came into effect on 12 August 2021, has two major contributions: a presumption of employment for delivery providers whose working conditions are all determined using a digital platform and algorithmic transparency requirements concerning all workers who work through a digital platform.
Under this royal decree, workers that provide delivery services for any consumer product or good on behalf of an employer have the power to manage or control Working conditions using an algorithmic system or digital platform will benefit from a presumption of employment. These so-called riders move therefore fall under the scope of Spain’s Workers Statute Law, which regulates terms of employment in Spain, and give workers that have more flexibility and freedom in their working arrangements the same protections as other employees.
However, since this is only a presumption of employment, employers could provide evidence to the contrary that indicates that they do not exercise their powers of organization, direction and control over platform-based delivery workers. Nevertheless, this provision is essential to ensure safer and fairer working conditions for delivery workers with atypical contracts.
As well as giving riders additional protection and rights, the royal decree also makes a ground-breaking contribution. Employers must be transparent about the digital platform they use for decision-making about working conditions and access to and maintenance of employment, including those used for profiling. These transparency requirements, which modify article 64.4 of the Workers Statute, apply to all employers using digital platforms for these purposes, not just those used in reference to riders or delivery drivers. In addition, under the decree, employers must now inform employees’ legal representatives or works council of the parameters, rules and instructions on which the algorithms or AI systems are based.
To support Spain’s efforts towards greater transparency and accountability for algorithmic systems, the Ministry of Labor has published guidelines on algorithmic data in the workplace to bring obligations around algorithmic systems in a labour context together and provide a tool to specify and systematize information obligations. The guidelines define algorithms and outline how automated decision systems can be used in the workplace, including hiring decisions, monitoring and surveillance, and work management. The guidelines then summarise how GDPR applies to algorithmic systems and how the transparency obligations can be met, along with the requirements for impact assessments of the design and implementation of algorithms under Spanish data protection law.
The major contribution of these guidelines is the tool for complying with transparency requirements of privacy law and the Workers Statute. Divided into four sections, the tool covers information that should be disclosed regarding:
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Written by Airlie Hilliard, Senior Researcher at Holistic AI. Follow her on Linkedin.
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