Blog and news
March 1, 2023

IFOW Newsletter March 2023 | The view from IFOW


We are pleased to announce that Matt Warman MP and Lord Jim Knight have been appointed co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Work. Matt was appointed by former PM Boris Johnson to undertake the UK’s Future of Work Review and will be completing the review cross-party, with our support as Strategic Research Partner.

As the parliamentary hub for the future of work, we will be setting out a programme of events for the coming year exploring the four key areas identified by Matt in his letter to the PM in September last year: people and place, skills and capabilities, regulation and workers rights, and AI and automation. We welcome further members who will be able to submit evidence to the review. Apply to join here.

Mission Focus

There has been a lot of talk recently about how far ‘missions’ can change the way government works or drive structural change. Missions shift focus towards ‘positive’ interventions and proactive ideas around delivery: what can we do to make this happen?

In the case of 3 of Labour’s own 5 new missions, we think the answer should be ‘create good jobs,’ and we believe that we have evidence to back this up.

Good job creation will probably be a key battleground in the next election. Reconfiguring departmental remits will not, although we welcome the clear message sent by the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology that research, development and technology are crucial to drive future prosperity and wellbeing. As a research and development institute with a focus on technology, we agree!

Four Day Week

On a smaller scale, the results of the world’s largest pilot of a four-day working week have just been released, promoting the question: would introducing reduced hours or changing working time help us better achieve our missions?

Hats off to the team behind the study: the headline results are impressive, especially when it comes to workforce wellbeing, with absence, burnout and turnover rates markedly dropping.

Renewed focus on wellbeing at work is vital and, if one of the various models from the trial works for you then great. But it’s just as important that the four-day week is not seen as a silver bullet to address wider trends and challenges facing firms and workers across the country, including building the conditions for future good work, tackling huge inequalities and supporting work transitions through the new technological revolution.

Anna Thomas
Institute for the Future of Work

Deep Dive: AI, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) released their Revised Draft Framework Convention on AI, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. The framework recognises that AI systems have both ‘the potential to promote human prosperity as well as individual and social well-being' but also that ‘some uses have the potential to undermine people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

This points to the importance of balancing potential risks and optimising rewards.

Article 24 focuses particularly on Risk and Impact Management which requires that states should provide guidance on how to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate risks and adverse impacts arising from the application of AI. They propose that such guidance should ensure that risk and impact assessments consider prevention and mitigation measures targeted at specific contexts of application, and that these processes should integrate the perspective of subjects whose rights may be potentially impacted through the operation of the system. They also propose the recording and due consideration of adverse impacts iteratively, throughout the lifecycle of a system.

This proposal is aligned with IFOW’s new model of a risk and impact assessment in the workplace, where algorithmic systems are increasingly used to monitor, manage and steer behaviour. Our ‘Good Work Algorithmic Impact Assessment’ is a tool that will steer organisations through this process, with a clear focus on listening to voices at all levels of a workplace and doing preemptive work to avoid negative impacts.

Please contact us if you would like your organisation to help pilot this work on GWAIAs and be at the forefront of responsible AI deployment.

Interesting reads / listens

Trades unions have a crucial role to play promoting algorithmic transparency and accountability in the world of work.

A new study highlights how trades unions are being called upon to focus on practical advice and guidance to empower union representatives and negotiators to deal with the challenges that automation puts onto workers.

Is the European AI Act’s current risk-based approach too limited in the face of ChatGPT?

An essay in Internet Policy Review argues that it is:

Inside Japan’s long experiment in automating elder care.

The country wanted robots to help care for the elderly. What happened? “In short, they failed to save labour.”

Labour Conflicts in the Digital Age

Digital platforms have drastically transformed the way we work. But how are these transformations being received and challenged by workers? Using case studies taken from Europe and North America, this book provides a radical interpretation of the changing nature of worker movements in the digital age, and offers a comparative perspective on the mobilising trajectories of different platform workers and their distinct organisational forms and action repertoires.

Does digital sovereignty ”risk legitimising shifts toward digital authoritarianism”?

A keynote session of Sciences Po’s annual conference, featuring a discussion of the digital and cyber features of the Ukraine war and the current technological confrontation between China and the United States.

Amazon: At the Intersection of Culture and Capital

Examining the political economy of Amazon’s platform, this book argues that it operates as an unregulated monopoly that is disruptive to the global economy and that its infrastructure and logistical operations increasingly alienate its workers and wreak many other social harms.


OpenAI is offering subsidised access to their API for research on fairness and representation, alignment, and sociotechnical research, amongst other areas.

Researchers can apply through their Researcher Access Program Application.

Regulating AI in Europe - 6th March, Madrid and online

Untangling the challenges brought about by AI and to examine the role of regulation at EU level.

Future of Work 2023 - Chatham House Conference - 14th March

How do we tackle talent shortages and design inclusive labour markets to deliver productivity gains?

Inform, educate, entertain… and recommend? - Ada Lovelace Institute - 14th March

Exploring the use and ethics of recommendation systems

The future of the UK economy - 23rd March, Sheffield

Navigating a route to a fairer and more prosperous South Yorkshire, and beyond
Register to attend in person.

Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this newsletter and know someone else who would benefit from it, please do share it with them. If someone has forwarded this page to you and you would like to receive future newsletters yourself via a monthly email, please subscribe here.


Anna Thomas


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