How will AI affect employers and employees?
The TUC says employers must disclose to workers how AI is being used in the workplace to make decisions about them.
And it said that every worker should be entitled to a human review of decisions made by AI systems so they can challenge decisions that are unfair and discriminatory.
The TUC says ministers are refusing to put in place the necessary “guardrails” to safeguard workers’ rights.
The union body said that last month’s AI white paper was a “dismal failure” with the government providing only vague guidance to regulators on how to ensure AI is used ethically at work, and no additional capacity or resource to cope with rising demand.
Instead, the government just offered a series of “vague” and “flimsy” commitments that will have no statutory footing, says the TUC.
Data bill is a “worrying direction of travel”
The TUC warned that government’s Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is already setting a “worrying direction of travel”.
The TUC says the bill will dilute important rights – currently guaranteed under GDPR – that:
Provide workers with protections against automated decision making (this is often decision making by AI)
Give workers and unions a say over the introduction of new technologies through an impact assessment process
The union body says that in addition to failing to regulate properly, the government is also watering down important protections.
Speaking ahead of the conference, TUC Assistant General Secretary Kate Bell said:
“AI is going to transform the way millions work in this country and is already being used across the economy to line-manage, and hire and fire staff.
“Without fair rules, this could lead to widespread discrimination and unfair treatment at work.
“But the government is refusing to put in place the necessary guardrails to stop people from being exploited.
“Instead of clear and enforceable protections, ministers have issued a series of vague and flimsy commitments that are not worth the paper they are written on. And they have failed to provide regulators with the resources they need to do their jobs properly.
“It’s essential that employment law keeps pace with the AI revolution. But last month’s dismal AI white paper spectacularly failed to do that.”
Commenting on the government’s data bill, Kate added:
“The government is setting a worrying direction of travel.
“On the one hand ministers are refusing to properly regulate AI. And on the other hand, they are watering down important protections through the data bill.
“This will leave workers more vulnerable to unscrupulous employers.”
Robin Allen KC, Leading AI and employment rights lawyer, said:
“More money, more expertise, more cross-regulatory working, more urgent interventions, more control of AI: without these it will not be just a race to the bottom for workers’ rights, the whole idea of any rights at work will become illusory.”