TUC warns that Britain is ‘losing race against time’ to regulate AI in the workplace

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) launched its new AI Employment Bill on Thursday

19 Apr 2024| News

Britain is “losing a race against time” to regulate AI in the workplace and is at risk of becoming an “international outlier,” the TUC warned as it launches its new AI Employment Bill on Thursday.

The union federation says the pace of AI’s development is leaving many workers legally vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination and that AI regulation in the workplace is an “urgent national priority.”

It has published its “ready-to-go” legal blueprint for regulating AI after months of work by its AI taskforce advised by legal and tech experts, trade unions, and a cross-party group of MPs.

The draft legislation sets out legal duties on employers to consult trade unions on the use of “high risk” and intrusive forms of AI in the workplace; of transparency, observability and explainability when employers use AI.

New polling — carried out for the TUC by YouGov — has shown that 69 per cent of working adults in Britain think employers should have to consult their staff first before introducing new technologies such as AI in the workplace.

TUC assistant general secretary Kate Bell said:

“We urgently need to put new guardrails in place to protect workers from exploitation and discrimination. This should be a national priority.

Other countries are regulating workplace AI — so that staff and employers know where they stand. The UK can’t afford to drag its feet and become an international outlier.”

Professor Gina Neff, executive director of the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy at the University of Cambridge, said:

“This Bill would provide robust protections for employees and bring UK employment law into the AI era. It would prevent employers from making bad decisions with bad AI.”

The IER has been working with the University of Bristol’s Professor Philippa Collins and Dr Joe Atkinson of Southampton University on a study of Algorithmic Management, with results due to be published at a launch event soon.