Protecting Workers’ Rights: Trade Union Pushes for AI Legislation in HR

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has created a special team to make clearer rules about using Artificial Intelligence (AI) at work. They are bringing together experts in law, HR, technology, and the voluntary sector to come up with new laws that protect workers.

The Union has expressed concern about the potential consequences of not addressing this issue promptly, highlighting the risk of the UK descending into a ‘wild west’ scenario in terms of AI application within workplaces.

What Are the Problems With AI?

AI is a technology in which computers and machines can perform tasks like humans, such as learning, responding to questions, weighing up information and making decisions quickly. AI is becoming important in many parts of our lives because it can process lots of information quickly.

However, AI can be tricky because it’s so new, and the rules haven’t caught up yet. This can affect jobs, fair treatment of workers, and people’s privacy at work. So, we need to think carefully about how AI impacts our work and rights.

How Can AI Affect Worker Rights in HR Decisions?

AI is already playing a crucial role in the workplace, affecting decisions about hiring, performance evaluation, and even termination. However, UK employment laws have lagged behind, leaving many workers susceptible to exploitation and discrimination.

TUC Assistant General Secretary Kate Bell stresses the urgent need for new employment legislation to provide clarity and protection for both workers and employers. Without proper regulation, the labour market risks descending into chaos, and it is crucial that society comes together to address this challenge.

Experts from various fields are collaborating to develop a new AI legal framework, ensuring that the benefits of AI technologies are equitably shared and enjoyed. This initiative marks a significant step forward in maximising the positive impact of AI on all aspects of work.

The issue with AI in the workplace is that it could potentially include bias; either conscious or unconscious, depending on who has created it or influenced it. It is for this reason that the TUC and other consumer protection and worker rights groups are making a concerted effort to ensure there are robust legal frameworks to govern the use of AI not only in the workplace but in the public sphere as well.

AI is expected to cause disruption to millions of jobs worldwide, and while some jobs will be lost to AI, the technology will also generate new roles in related fields. Another key concern is related to recruitment or managing performance. The same applies to decisions about which workers are made redundant and which get retrained in new roles, something that may impact some workers more negatively than others.

There are also fears that AI could potentially discriminate against workers in protected classes be it because of gender, race, or religion. In the same way, AI could have the potential to negatively impact disabled employees, leading to them being overlooked for career progression or not being given adequate support.

With AI already being integrated into decision making involving workers, including how they are hired and how their performance is managed, it is imperative for UK employment law to keep pace with recent developments in the space.

As such, efforts such as the TUC taskforce on AI are welcome developments as both workers and employers seek greater clarity on the use of AI.

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