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September 30, 2022

IFOW Newsletter September 2022 | The view from IFOW

Dear Friends of IFOW,

The Party season has started amid unprecedented upheaval. But this year, the Labour conference was full of good conversations, and the start of some innovative policies, in particular related to the future of work, which saw a significant increase in profile this year.

We were delighted to see some bolder policies passed by the conference, that have been co-developed by IFOW with our partners over the last two years. These include:

  • A specific requirement to consult and share information with workers and unions on the use of workplace technologies to build trust and support partnership working.
  • The introduction of algorithmic impact assessments, which should include dedicated equality impact assessments, to deliver improved outcomes for people and business together.
  • A new requirement for human involvement in decision-making that affects work and people at work.
  • Boosted day-one rights to include flexible working.
  • A new right for time off for retraining, alongside substantive, additional investment in life-long learning from Government to support people as well as businesses in transition.

Investment in creating and protecting a future of good work is more important than ever following the "mini-budget" last week to align new policies from the Treasury and Bank of England in the short term, and to support inclusive growth across the country in the long term. Given this, I felt especially honoured to speak about automation and new technology alongside the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work Angela Rayner, USDAW General Secretary Paddy Lillis, Francis O'Grady General Secretary and Justin Madders MP.

We look forward to research and policy work with the Opposition, as well continuing our work with Government. To kick this off, today we have published a new collection on the IFOW Knowledge Hub that has been curated by Dr Harry Pitts, which focuses specifically on the relationship between politics and perceptions of automation risk.

Finally, we want to offer our sincerest apologies to everyone who had registered to join us at the Future of Work and Wellbeing conference that was scheduled to take place on Monday 12 September, which we made the decision to postpone following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We are working closely with our event partners, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, to secure an alternative date, which we will be communicating as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we're looking forward to a lively Conservative conference in Birmingham next week.

Anna and the Institute for the Future of Work team

Deep dive – Algorithmic hiring systems

Around 99% of Fortune 500 companies use talent-sifting software in some part of the recruitment and hiring process. Some of these solutions rely on the power of machine learning in order to predict candidate performance with less human input required in the process, constituting algorithmic hiring.

One of the top providers in the field, HireVue, claims to provide its services to over one-third of Fortune 100 companies.

Algorithmic hiring systems, whether semi or fully automated, play a part in determining individual access to important life opportunities with significant implications for their life chances and future wellbeing. In 2018, Amazon famously halted use of their CV scanning algorithm which was found to be biased against women, favouring male candidates, as it had not been trained on sufficient examples of successful women.

The potential harms to fairness and equality in access to work must be carefully scrutinised as an emerging area of workplace risk. As part of the Institute for the Future of Work's new research project to create an algorithmic impact assessment (AIA) protocol for algorithmic hiring systems, we have conducted a review of 36 algorithmic hiring tools that are currently in operation around the world.

IFOW researcher, Stephanie Sheir outlines in this blog post the common workings of algorithmic hiring systems, describing the data they use, how they process information, and how they contribute to decision making, as well as exploring some of the potential implications the use of these systems have for fairness and equality in the UK.

Related reading:

Interesting reads

Hard up: How rising prices are hitting different places, and how they can respond

The Centre for Progressive Policy have published a report exploring the challenges facing different places during the cost-of-living crisis. The report combines an updated version of their Cost of Living Vulnerability Index, which highlights the places in England that are most vulnerable to the impact of rising costs, with interviews from local authority officers that reveal the experiences of those on the frontline in local government dealing with the crisis.

The analysis and interviews underline that there is a strong case for providing vulnerable places with greater financial assistance to deal with the crisis, along with stable long-term funding to help deliver sustainable inclusive growth.

Reflections on the Good Work Project

The Institute for Employment Studies recently teamed up with the Local Government Association (LGA) to support its members to understand how local and combined authorities can create and promote 'good work'. This blog post summarises the results, and lessons from four case studies published in the summer.

The top tips for employers emphasise the potential for good work to encourage employees, customers and partners to support business growth.

At the Institute for the Future of Work, we have developed a Good Work Monitor, which creates the first single and holistic measure of the availability of 'good work' (based on labour market access, status and autonomy and pay and conditions) in each local authority area of England outside London. Explore it here.

AI liability in Europe

This week the EU Commission published its proposal for a Directive adapting liability law to AI.

The Directive should make it easier for workers who have been harmed by the use of AI in the workplace to seek justice by introducing the following:

  1. The new right to access evidence from their employer or AI supplier to support their case
  2. The presumption of causality, which would make it easier for employees to claim they have been harmed by AI where the harms seems to be 'reasonably linked' to the use of AI.

Anticipating the Directive, the Ada Lovelace Institute has published a useful explainer, which provides legal context and analysis on how liability law could support a more effective legal framework for AI.

A fair deal for all: delivering flexibility and protections for a modern workplace

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has published a new report, as part of their Future of Britain initiative, on the rise non-traditional work and individuals' experiences in these roles.The report estimates that as many as 20% of workers are now in "non-traditional roles" – ranging from freelancers and sub-contractors to agency and gig workers, and highlight three new definitions of workers:

  1. Hustlers – identified as self-employed but with no employees e.g. sub-contractors, freelancers and solo-business owners.
  2. Giggers – where access to work is typically determined through a multi-party structure, such as a digital labour platform or an agency. This third party often exercises a degree of control over the terms of the work.
  3. Impermanents – typically in bilateral, subordinate but impermanent working relationships e.g. working on a zero-hours contract, for a fixed period or seasonally.

The report then sets out five recommendations for modernising the UK's system of employment rights to deliver flexibility with protections.Working from home around the worldA new paper by Aksoy et al., published in the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper series presents the results from the Global Survey of Working Arrangements (G-SWA) in 27 countries, and provide new insights on the nature of hybrid work, including:

  • Employees view the option to work from home two-to-three days a week as equal in value to 5% of pay, on average.
  • One quarter of employees who currently work from home one or more days per week said they would quit, or seek another job if their employer announced that all employees must return to the worksite for five or more days a week.
  • Savings in commute time is the most important individual-level benefit of working from home.
  • On average, women place a higher average value on working from home than men in all but a few countries, as do those with more education.

For more on hybrid and flexible working, watch back this APPG on the Future of Work event, which explores how companies and policy need to adapt to new patterns of working.

Scaling digital lifelong learning innovations in the UK

Lifelong learning opportunities are often inaccessible to those workers impacted the most by the forces of automation and the pandemic. In a rapid-changing landscape, where an accelerated shift in the pattern of occupations is coupled with a shift in the skill sets required for jobs, the RSA has published a report, which argues that escalating existing and emerging digital lifelong learning innovations, and enabling an inclusive system, is key to promoting economic security, social equity and individual wellbeing.


In the name of progress: Will technology solve inequality?

16:15–17:45 UTC-5 | Friday 7 October 2022

Renowned economist Daron Acemoğlu delivers the 2022 WIDER Annual Lecture at the Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES) in Bogotá, Colombia (also streamed online). Based on his newest book, In the Name of Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle over Technology and Prosperity (co-authored with Simon Johnson), this presentation will challenge the techno-optimism of our age, and of our academic profession, which maintains that technological advances will ultimately benefit society at large.  

Work Matters 2022: Pay and support during the cost of living crisis

14:00–15:00 BST | Tuesday 11 October 2022

Join the Work Foundation and a panel of experts to review the labour market statistics from the Office for National Statistics, and what it means for workers, businesses and communities.

The Skills Imperative 2035: Essential skills for tomorrow's workforce launch event

16:30 BST | Thursday 13 October 2022

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) hosts the launch event for their Skills Imperative 2035 programme – a large-scale research programme to identify the essential employment skills people will need for work by 2035, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Reshaping Work 2022 Conference

Amsterdam | 13–14 October 2022

The Kin Center for Digital Innovation and Rotterdam School of Management host the Reshaping Work 2022 conference to gain in-depth insights into how AI and platforms are changing the way we work. The conference features keynote presentations, panel discussions, roundtable sessions, Future of Work expo and many opportunities for networking and exchanging of ideas.

Hiring Gen Z – what can employers learn about emerging talent in 2023?

9:30–17:30 BST | Thursday 20 October 2022

IFOW's Dr Bertha Rohenkohl joins HR World's next event in their Culture Clash series, which will focus on engaging, recruiting and retaining young people in an unpredictable market. This is an exclusive networking event for senior HR professionals and people specialists at London's RSA House.

Future Impact Summit

29–30 October 2022

The Future Impact Summit is an immersive two-day tech and social sciences event taking place on LSE campus. The Summit includes a 'Future of Work' track, which will centre on topics such as the future workplace, the creation of jobs from emerging industries, and the impact of remote work on talent distribution.


Senior Communications Manager at the Institute for the Future of Work

We're looking for an enthusiastic Senior Communications Manager to help drive our mission to shape a fairer future though better work. Working closely with our Director, and serving the needs of the whole organisation, you will develop and implement a practical and compelling communications strategy. You will help frame our mission with clear and compelling messaging that builds on our reputation and helps us lead the public conversation around the future of work.

Find out more and apply by Tuesday 25 October 2022.

Policy Adviser, Data

The Royal Society is hiring a Policy Adviser, who will work across their portfolios of work on data and digital technologies. Based in the Science Policy directorate, in the Data team, the successful candidate will work with Fellows of the Royal Society, and other experts, to develop and promote independent, expert, and timely advice to UK, European, and international decision makers in matters of science policy.

Find out more and apply by Friday 7 October 2022.

Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this, and know someone else that would benefit, please share it with them. If someone has forwarded this to you, and you would like to receive this update yourself, please subscribe here.

If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions for our round-up, please drop us a line at


Anna Thomas MBE


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