On 26th April, Mick Whitley MP introduced a Westminster Hall debate on Artificial Intelligence and the Labour Market. The impacts of AI on work, workers and workers' rights was debated.
Labour front bench minister Justin Madders MP - Shadow Minister for Employment Rights - spoke in the debate and highlighted IFOW's research on how algorithmic systems are changing the experience of work for so many, and how rarely workers are consulted about the deployment of such systems:
Reports both in the media and by researchers have found that workplaces across a range of sectors are becoming increasingly monitored and automated, and decisions of that nature are becoming normalised. A report on algorithmic systems by the Institute for the Future of Work noted that that is ultimately redefining work in much narrower terms than can be quantified by any algorithm, with less room for the use of human judgment. Crucially, the institute found that workers were rarely involved in or even consulted about these types of data-driven technologies. The changes have completely altered those people’s experience of work, with greater surveillance and greater intensification, and use in disciplinary procedures. [...] I would like the Minister to commit to looking at how the technology works in the workplace.
Responding for the government, Kevin Hollinrake, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) affirmed that:
Although the Government believe in the growth potential of these technologies, we also want to be clear that growth cannot come at the expense of the rights and protections of working people.
He committed to "take action on skills, skilling up our workforce in the UK to take advantage of the potential of AI" and that the government will "continue to build our understanding of how the employment rights framework operates in an era of increasing AI use" while emphasising the application of existing laws including the Equalities Act and the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.
IFOW has done analysis on how these areas intersect with workplace rights here.
In our role as Strategic Research Partner for the APPG on the Future of Work we are supporting the ongoing Future of Work review that the group is conducting, which will examine workers' rights in a forthcoming session.
IFOW will also be giving evidence to the Public Bill Committee on 10th May, and will continue to support both the Opposition and the Government to deliver on their commitments in this vital area.