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Updated 21 September 2018
This English translation is provided for your convenience and information only. In case of legal disputes, the German version shall govern.
§ 1 Purpose of the Ombuds Office
The Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct articulates principles for fair paid crowd work / crowdsourcing. These principles form the basis for a beneficial and fair cooperation between crowdsourcing platforms and crowd workers. The signing platforms hold themselves responsible to these principles. The Ombuds Office is an establishment of the signatories of the Code of Conduct. It is understood as a mediator between opposed interests that may emerge in the course of work on the platforms. The Ombuds Office will seek to find consensual solutions to problems that may arise. The solutions should be carried out and accepted by all parties.
§ 2 Tasks of the Ombuds Office
(1) The Ombuds Office mediates disputes that arise between workers and platforms that are signatories to the Code of Conduct. The Ombuds Office will mediate a dispute only after the parties have attempted to resolve the situation on their own (outside of the legal system).
(2) Parties listed in § 4 (2) may submit a claim to the Ombuds Office indicating that a platform has violated the Code of Conduct multiple times and should no longer be entitled to claim that it adheres to the Code of Conduct. In such cases, the Ombuds Office will decide whether the right to claim adherence to the Code of Conduct is to be revoked.
§ 3 Constitution of the Ombuds Office
(1) Five people make up the Ombuds Office:
(2) The selection of the members of the Ombuds Office and of their substitutes in case of unavailability shall be valid for one year. All members and substitutes shall be agreed upon by the signatory platforms, the German Crowdsourcing Association, and the German Trade Union Confederation or one of its member unions. (Immediately after the establishment of the Ombuds Office, this function will initially be performed by IG Metall.)
(3) The representative of the signatory platforms as defined in § 3 (1) will typically be a representative of a particular platform (for example, an employee of one of the platform operating companies). If the platform operating company in question operates the platform involved in a particular case before the Ombuds Office, the substitute platform representative will serve in the case in question.
(4) If a worker files a complaint as described in § 4 (1) and the worker filing the complaint lives in a country other than Germany, a representative from a trade union based in that country may join the Ombuds Office process in an advisory capacity, if the worker wishes.
§ 4 Invocation of the Ombuds Office
(1) In cases of disputes between a platform and a worker (or workers), the affected parties who require legal protection may call upon the Ombuds Office once other extralegal bilateral attempts to resolve the situation are unsuccessfully exhausted.
(2) If a platform inappropriately proclaims that it adheres to the Code of Conduct, the following parties may call upon the Ombuds Office:
(3) To call upon the Ombuds Office, a written claim is required. An email fulfills this requirement.
(4) The complaint must be formulated as clearly as possible. The complaint may concern a dispute over a material amount (e.g., payment for a particular task) or seek a declaratory judgment. The issue in question may not have occurred more than six months prior to the submission of the request to the Ombuds Office. The complaint must be written in German or English.
§ 5 Conclusion and Duration of the Ombuds Office Process
(1) A written record will be made in German of the result of the mediation process. If one of the participating platforms has no legal presence in Germany, the record may also be written in English.
(2) For disputes between workers and platforms (i.e., disputes in the category described in § 2 (1)), parties generally do not relinquish the right to pursue further legal action, unless they do so explicitly.
(3) For disputes of the type described in § 2 (2), the verdict will be published in an appropriate form. In particular, a platform judged by the Ombuds Office to have inappropriately proclaimed that they adhere to the Code of Conduct may no longer proclaim that they adhere to the Code of Conduct. Such a platform will be asked to remove any indications that they adhere to the Code of Conduct from their website(s). The Ombuds Office explicitly reserves the right to actively communicate such decisions on its own initiative, for example through deletion of the platform in question from the list of supporters/signatories to the Code of Conduct and through statements to the press and online.
(4) An Ombuds Office process should, to the extent possible, not last longer than three months.
§ 6 Confidentiality
Ombuds Office processes regarding disputes between workers and platforms (as described in § 2 (1)) are confidential. Information disclosed by participants in the context of the mediation process is to be kept confidential. In particular, trade secrets of the affected platform(s) and personal information pertaining to the affected worker(s) must be kept confidential.
§ 7 Costs
(1) There is no cost to participants. Participants cover their own costs associated with the process.
(2) In particular for disputes between workers and platforms, a low-cost process should be used, for example Skype conferences instead of in-person meetings.
§ 8 Public relations activities
The Ombuds Office will publish a yearly report with aggregated information. The yearly report will be agreed upon by the members of the Office as described in § 3 (1) prior to publication. In this context § 5 (3) and § 6 are to be observed.
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