Employee RelationsNews

TUC launches taskforce for AI in workplace

The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) has launched a new taskforce to look at the “creeping role” of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace.

The launch comes as a new TUC report revealed that many workers have concerns over the use of AI and technology in the workplace.

TUC commissioned an online survey by BritainThinks of 2,133 workers in England and Wales between 31 July – 5 August 2020. All respondents were reportedly either in work, on furlough, or recently made redundant.

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The report showed that one in seven (15%) people said that monitoring and surveillance at work has increased since Covid-19. A further 60% said that unless carefully regulated, using technology to make decisions about people at work could increase “unfair treatment” in the workplace.

Fewer than one in three (31%) people said they are consulted when any new forms of technology are introduced, with more than half of workers (56%) responding that introducing new technologies to monitor the workplace “damages trust” between workers and employers.

TUC said that the AI recruitment market is now forecast to be worth nearly $400m (£333m) by 2027 and is increasingly being used as a tool to manage people. This includes selecting candidates for interview, day-to-day line management, performance ratings, shift allocation and deciding who is disciplined or made redundant.

The report highlighted how AI is being utilised by employers to “analyse team dynamics” and personality types when making restructuring decisions.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary TUC, said: “Worker surveillance tech has taken off during this pandemic as employers have grappled with increased remote working.

“Big companies are investing in intrusive AI to keep tabs on their workers, set more demanding targets and to automate decisions about who to let go. And it’s leading to increased loneliness and monotony.”

She added: “Workers must be properly consulted on the use of AI, and be protected from punitive ways of working. Nobody should have their livelihood taken away by an algorithm. As we emerge from this crisis, tech must be used to make working lives better – not to rob people of their dignity.”

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