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TUC launches AI taskforce to safeguard workers’ rights

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has created a new taskforce to draft new legal protections to ensure AI is regulated fairly at work.

The taskforce will be led by a committee including the CIPD, the University of Oxford, the British Computer Society and the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

MP David Davis, who has previously said AI will potentially devastating effects on the workforce if it is not regulated, will also sit on the committee, along with a number of other MPs.

Ben Willmott, head of policy at the CIPD, said the CIPD is seeking to inform the development of any future legislation in this area.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “It is important that both employers and policy-makers understand any potential risks around the use of AI at work, including whether the current employment rights framework is sufficient.

"We will be using insights from this forum to build on our existing guidance and support to members on technology and work to understand the strategies and policies employers need in order to optimise the benefits of AI for both the business and workers."

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The TUC wants the taskforce to call for a legal duty on employers to consult trade unions on the use of high-risk and intrusive forms of AI in the workplace.

It is also seeking a legal right for all workers to have a human review of decisions made by AI systems so they can challenge decisions that are unfair and discriminatory.

The TUC is also pushing for assurances around address data-protection issues and a legal right to ‘switch off’ from work.

The news follows a warning from MPs last week (31 August) that unless new UK law is introduced, the EU’s AI Act will become the standard for AI regulation.

In a report, the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, a cross-party group of MPs, said: “Without a serious, rapid and effective effort to establish the right governance frameworks [...] other jurisdictions will steal a march and the frameworks that they lay down may become the default even if they are less effective than what the UK can offer.”

Read more: HR managers worried AI will replace them

TUC assistant general secretary, Kate Bell, agreed that regulating AI is a matter of urgency.

She 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.

“Without proper regulation of AI, our labour market risks turning into a Wild West. We all have a shared interest in getting this right.”