Use of Blockchain Technologies in the Field of Labor
By IMBA-Exchange on The Capital
The issues of using blockchain technologies, conducting ICOs and the use of cryptocurrencies are relevant not only for the field of law, but also for political, economic, other sciences, and are also of interest to ordinary citizens.
Labor law does not remain aloof from the development of technology, as well as globalization processes, which necessitates the conduct of relevant scientific research.
For a short time, judicial practice is changing, the approaches of state bodies in matters of cryptocurrency transactions, their theft, seizure, etc. At the same time, electronic technologies are acquiring special significance in the field of labor law. Workflow experiments, discussions about the need to introduce workbooks, electronic sick-lists, and the work of remote workers — information technologies have already found application in all these areas.
In addition, at the present time, given the globalization processes, there is a need to increase pay opportunities. It is no accident that in some countries the possibilities of a monetary form of remuneration have expanded by assuming, under certain conditions, remuneration in the currency of other states. Based on this provision, the question arises about the practical feasibility of using cryptocurrency workers as wages, as well as the use of blockchain technologies in the world of work.
Blockchain is a technology of distributed databases (registries) based on a constantly renewed chain of records. The name Cryptocurrency, meaning “cryptocurrency”, appeared in Forbes magazine in 2011. However, cryptocurrencies themselves would not have been so widespread without a blockchain system that provides all the necessary elements for circulation.
Cryptocurrency is a special kind of electronic means of payment. Strictly speaking, this is a mathematical code. It is called so because of the use of cryptographic elements in the circulation of this digital money, namely, an electronic signature.
The popularity of cryptocurrencies is due to a number of factors that directly affect labor law.
Such electronic money is universal regardless of the place of work, the legal form of the employer or the citizenship of the employee. Cryptocurrencies are not tied to a particular state or bank. This decentralization is one of their main advantages, which encourages many countries to start using cryptographic currencies for international payments and as reserve currencies. Bitcoin operations are increasingly being conducted on global financial markets. In the future, this factor allows creating a single world labor market, where remuneration for labor will be paid in a single form and currency, without linking this money to specific countries and existing systems. This will significantly simplify emerging issues and difficulties in relations associated with employees located abroad. This eliminates the need for multiple transfers of funds and the exchange of one currency for another.
From this point of view, I would like to draw attention to the main problems associated with the use of cryptocurrencies in remuneration.
One of the most acute problems is associated with tax legislation. Incomes of employees are taxed, while the employer, as a tax agent, performs this function for the employee. A distinctive feature of all operations with cryptocurrencies is their anonymity and lack of control. All operations occur instantly since they are not controlled by anyone and are not delayed for checks. Accordingly, the tax authorities do not know the number of funds received by the employee for the performance of his labor function, cannot personify the taxpayer and his tax burden. Similarly, the employer and employee are able to evade the payment of taxes, which is a violation of the law.
It is also important for the legislator to determine which form of labor remuneration should include cryptocurrencies. When assigned to cash, there are fewer problems with the payment and regulation of these funds, since in accordance with the above article, payments, in this case, can be made in full and the employer is not threatened with sanctions for violation of labor legislation. If you equate cryptocurrency payments to a non-monetary form of payment, then the employer has the right to pay in this way no more than 20% of the employee’s total salary per month. However, there is currently a variety of cryptocurrencies, some of which are notable for the instability and difficulty of selling by ordinary users. A wide range of cryptocurrencies at the same time can be both a plus and a minus in the issue of their use as a form of salary. The employer and employee can choose the most convenient currency for them to transfer funds. But such a variety can and can significantly interfere with the development of the institution of cryptocurrency payroll.
It should be noted that in many countries, judicial practice recognizes cryptocurrencies as property.
The largest online resources specializing in the purchase and sale of electronic means of payment, there are about 1,500 types of various cryptocurrencies. And this number will only increase over time, as large companies of completely different industries, often not even related to technology and innovation, create their own cryptocurrencies.
Also, the difficulty in paying wages will be the instability of the cryptocurrency rate. Since one of the constituent parts of wages is salary, which means a fixed wage for an employee for performing labor (official) duties of a certain complexity for a calendar month without taking into account compensation, incentive, and social benefits. Accordingly, this component of wages cannot be changed according to the norms of labor legislation. And the cryptocurrency exchange rate for a given period of time is notable for its instability.
In this case, it is necessary to specify in the employment contract with the employee the method of calculating his salary.
The first way is to fix the number of wages in a specific number of cryptocurrency units, regardless of their value. This method is unlikely and quite complicated for both employers and workers themselves, and for control and tax authorities.
A simpler way is to pay a salary in cryptocurrency with reference to a specific amount.
It is important to take into account the fact that, regardless of the concept chosen by the employer, the employee can suffer the most, since jumps in the cryptocurrency rate are possible in both cases, and it is the employee’s turnover, sale or personal use of electronic funds that will fall. The position in which the employee will be paid in electronic currency only part of the salary, and the remaining funds will be in the format of the usual money for everyone, will not be completely clear. Therefore, a potential user of cryptocurrency funds and a potential participant in their turnover can, unexpectedly for themselves and all those around them, suffer enormous losses and get rich quite unexpectedly.
The issue of using electronic money is of interest to employers in many countries. The development of regulations governing the circulation of cryptocurrency funds between an employer and an employee has begun almost around the world since the rise in the value of popular currencies.
Since April 1, 2017, the concept of “virtual currencies” has been introduced into the legislation of Japan, and cryptocurrencies have become a fully legalized means of payment. This event could not but affect the employment relationship. So, at the end of 2018, GMO Corporation planned to transfer about 5 thousand of its employees to the cryptocurrency form of payment. (Bitcoin.com “Japanese Internet Giant GMO Offers to Pay 4 700+ Employees in Bitcoin”).
The United States of America, as the state with the largest number of cryptocurrency users, is also actively developing relevant legislation.
US authorities have created a favorable atmosphere for the use of cryptocurrencies. This is also confirmed by studies in the field of labor relations and the labor market. According to a recent release from Bitwage, it was revealed that 10.5% of the companies surveyed currently pay employees, at least in part, in bitcoins. Across the country, about 20 thousand employees are registered in this program, who, accordingly, receive wages in cryptocurrency funds (Legal Ramifications of Paying Employees with Cryptocurrency).
In order to ensure that the employee and the employer do not hide from taxation when paying wages with cryptocurrencies, some states create entire committees within financial ministries whose main function is to control cash flows and record the tax base of a particular subject of labor relations. One of these countries is Singapore, which in recent years has become the economic center of the world since most projects designed for worldwide use are tested here. Already in 2014, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced the beginning of the process of legislative regulation of all operations with cryptocurrencies, including those related to labor relations. This body will regulate the process of payment of wages to the employee in this format all stages of the currency movement: from entering the employer company to paying the employee for his own purchases and services, thereby ensuring the security of cryptocurrency transactions and in every possible way helping employees quickly and safely enter the new payment system (Putting Singapore’s Dollar On Blockchain May Prove It’s The Most Crypto-Friendly Place On Earth).
In order for cryptocurrencies to become one of the forms of remuneration, it is necessary first of all to solve the main problems that impede the full use of electronic means in labor relations.
The paramount task is the normative consolidation of all aspects related to the circulation of such financial resources.
The assignment of electronic means of payment to cash will greatly simplify the mechanism for regulating these relations, as this will avoid introducing a large number of changes to existing legislation.
It is logical to solve the problem of taxation after legislative determination and consolidation, using Singaporean experience, creating a specially authorized committee in the Federal Tax Services. This will significantly save energy and money while deciding the whole layer in the use of cryptocurrency funds.
The existing mechanisms for accounting for taxable items and calculating the amount of legally established taxes and fees will not differ much from the existing ones. Therefore, from this side, the introduction of cryptocurrencies will not greatly complicate or change the current system.
The problem of a large number of different cryptocurrencies and their changing value can be solved in several ways. This may be the choice of one cryptocurrency, not necessarily Bitcoin, from among the existing ones. This decision will not create potential difficulties since a well-chosen currency by specialists at the time of consolidation will already be functioning for a long time, showing the real rate without sharp jumps, which will protect workers from depreciation situations and the inability to use their funds.
As for other blockchain technologies, it seems that the principles of smart contracts can be applied to the work of remote workers.
There is currently no established definition of smart contracts. In the most general form, you can define a smart contract as a contract with the automatic fulfillment of certain conditions. This automatic system will simplify the control of the employer over the employee.
In the case of a remote employee, it is the control by the employer that will be, on the one hand, a motivating factor in compliance with labor discipline, and on the other hand, a way to minimize the risks of the employer when bringing the remote employee to disciplinary liability. The remoteness of the employee from the employer should not become an insurmountable obstacle to the implementation of the above control.
Smart contracts will facilitate the interaction of the employee and the employer, simplify the control mechanism.
Thus, competent legislative consolidation and integration of blockchain technologies into the existing financial system are not an insoluble issue. If you take this seriously, the problem can be solved in a fairly short time, since examples of successful incorporation of electronic currencies into the economic scheme in some countries are very common.