TUC launches draft AI Bill to ensure worker voice on AI

23 April 2024

The TUC launched a “ready to go” AI and Employment Bill last week that sets out a legal framework to ensure UK workers have a voice in how AI is used at work.

The Bill regulates how employers use AI at work in relation to workers, to ensure their rights and interests are protected in the workplace. It also provides a legal framework of trade union rights to help further regulate the use of AI by employers.

Prospect contributed to drafting the Bill as part of a Special Advisory Committee of cross-industry specialists and experts in tech and AI.

Prospect has long campaigned for UK workers to have a right to disconnect from work and the bill includes a proposal for this right similar to those implemented in France and Ireland.

Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy attended the launch event last week alongside representatives from the Tech Workers Branch Committee, Mru and Rob.

Mike Clancy with Prospect members Rob and Mru

Mike Clancy with Prospect members Rob and Mru

Speaking on a panel at the event, Mike said:

“We have the bill because the law that’s in front of us in the UK is inadequate. It’s inadequate on a whole range of measures, but it’s particularly inadequate in terms of countering management prerogative, unilateral decision making.”

He went on to say:

“We have to be competent in the face of technological change. We need to develop a new generation of representatives who are not only comfortable with financial information, but are comfortable with organisational change, and they are as good at talking about the technology to their co-workers as they are to employers.

“I’ve seen some academics talk about training a new generation of representatives who are confident in this space. I think that’s very important for the trade union movement to reflect on because that breeds confidence that we can actually deal with employers and not feel overwhelmed by technological change.

“We can shape AI, we can make it create better jobs, and we can have a proper conversation about a just transition in terms of AI at work.”

Lending a US perspective, Amanda Ballantyne, director of the AFL-CIO Tech Institute, said:

“Workers are deeply knowledgeable about the work that they do. They’re experts in their own work. They’re also experts in technology. They really understand what technologies are safe and are unsafe. What technologies make their jobs easier and more efficient? What makes their jobs harder that they have to work around and figure out how to solve? And I think for too long worker voice has been really left out of the innovation process. That’s a problem.”

Reflecting on the event and the TUC’s work, Justin Madders MP said:

“There’s lots of things that have crept into many workplaces about algorithmic decision making, and actually a reduction in discretion for individual managers that has its own health impacts for everyone involved, never mind the question of whether people are adequately protected.”

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