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AI use in employee terminations raises HR concerns

One in 10 HR practitioners working in tech in the US are using ChatGPT to write termination letters, according to new data from B2B Reviews.

With figures from layoffs.fyi finding that over 210,000 tech sector employees have been laid off globally to date in 2023, this potentially equates to large numbers of people being terminated, with AI used at some stage in the process.

The B2B study, which surveyed over 200 HR professionals and more than 700 employees in the US, also found that only 53% of workers feel communication is clear during layoff processes.

In addition, a third (33%) said that HR did not offer support or resources to help cope with layoffs.

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Suzanne Horne, head of international employment practice at law firm Paul Hastings, added that with AI largely ubiquitous across work in all sectors, HR needs to be aware of the dangers it poses, especially in processes such as layoffs.

Speaking to HR magazine she said: “It is clear that the increasing use of AI raises a number of legal and regulatory issues that HR needs to be aware of including, privacy, discrimination, employee monitoring, learning and development and wellbeing.

“With the pace of change [in AI] staggering it is now being deployed somewhat controversially in more and more aspects of our lives.

“The question for HR is whether they can help their companies harness the positives from this seismic change.”

And with AI used in many HR processes already — several recruitment tech platforms offer AI-enablement for candidate screening and engagement while CommSafe AI monitor workplace communications using AI — other experts share concerns with AI, especially regarding de-humanisation.

Neil Finegan, leadership and management tutor at DLC Training, said that while AI can offer time-saving utility — the B2B Reviews study found 50% of respondents were using the tech to save an average of 70 minutes per week — HR shouldn’t rely on such tools unnecessarily.

He said: “While neither inherently good nor bad it’s important to remember that AI lacks the most important element of the HR profession: humans.

“Layoffs and workforce reductions are never an easy task, however crafting a respectful termination letter is an essential part of the employee dismissal process.

“While tools like Chat GPT can be a good starting point to research the essential elements of a termination letter they should not be relied on to do all the heavy lifting.

“Always sense check AI-generated text and try to add in any individual details on the reasons for termination and employment history.”