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AI taskforce launched to address gaps in law

The TUC has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) taskforce that aims to draft new legal protections for both workers and employers.

The group, which includes specialists in law, technology, policy, HR and the voluntary sector, hopes to publish a draft “AI and Employment Bill” in early 2024 and will lobby to have it incorporated into UK law.

The TUC is among organisations calling for further regulation to protect employees from potential discrimination, unfairness and exploitation resulting from greater use of AI, especially in hiring, firing and setting work conditions.

MPs on the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee have also highlighted the need for UK policymakers to provide credible protection against any harm it may cause, and to prepare for potential job losses.

A recent survey found 60% of workers wanted to see curbs placed on the use of AI at work, with many worried about their jobs disappearing.

The TUC said the UK is “way behind the curve” on the regulation of AI, with UK employment law failing to keep pace with the development of new technologies.

TUC assistant general secretary Kate Bell, joint chair of the new taskforce, said: “AI is already making life-changing decisions about the way millions work – including how people are hired, performance-managed and fired. But UK employment law is way behind the curve – leaving many workers vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination.

“We urgently need new employment legislation, so workers and employers know where they stand. Without proper regulation of AI, our labour market risks turning into a wild west. We all have a shared interest in getting this right.”

Gina Neff, executive director of the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy at the University of Cambridge, joint chair, said: “Responsible and trustworthy AI can power huge benefits. But laws must be fit for purpose and ensure that AI works for all.

Without proper regulation of AI, our labour market risks turning into a wild west. We all have a shared interest in getting this right.” – Kate Bell, TUC

“AI safety isn’t just a challenge for the future and it isn’t just a technical problem. These are issues that both employers and workers are facing now, and they need the help from researchers, policymakers and civil society to build the capacity to get this right for society.”

Other members of the taskforce include the CIPD, CWU, GMB, Usdaw, Community, Prospect, Tech UK, the British Computer Society, and the Ada Lovelace Institute, as well as MPs David Davis, Darren Jones, Mick Whitley and Chris Stephens.

The AI and Employment Bill will be drafted by employment lawyers Robin Allen KC and Dee Masters from the AI Law Consultancy, with assistance from Cloisters barristers’ chambers.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary at Usdaw, said: “A critical challenge in the workplace is the development and introduction of new technology and automation, after the pandemic accelerated the introduction of technology across many of the key industries. The resultant job insecurity and retraining need is massive. An estimated nine in ten employees in the UK will need to retrain by 2030.

“We are clear that we need a new deal for workers based on comprehensive skills training, strengthening trade union rights and high quality, secure employment. At the moment it is too easy and too cheap for employers to make workers redundant as a result of the introduction of automation systems; this needs to change.”



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