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Ten key proposals: first steps towards AI regulation for employers?

Employers are well aware of the speed at which AI is developing and the potential impact that it will have on their organisations. The UK AI market is predicted to grow to over $1 trillion (USD) by 2035. Many employers are questioning how they can use AI effectively and safely but so far there have been no laws set in the UK to address or govern these concerns. 

Different jurisdictions across the world are now starting to draft the laws that will govern their use of AI. In March 2024, the EU adopted its Artificial Intelligence Act, which will regulate the use of AI in the EU. The UK government chose to take a more flexible approach, publishing the response to its “pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” in February 2024, which, rather than legislating, set out cross-sector principles for the UK’s existing regulators to interpret and apply. 

However, on 18 April 2024, the Trades Union Congress (“TUC”) called for specific legislation in this area by publishing the Artificial Intelligence (Regulation and Employment Rights) Bill (the “Bill”). The Bill aims to regulate the use of AI systems by employers in relation to workers, employees and job seekers to protect their rights and interests in the workplace, with the various rights and obligations to be enforceable in the Employment Tribunal. We have set out the Bill’s ten key proposals below.

Proposed rights & obligations

  1. Workplace AI Risk Assessments - employers would be obliged to carry out detailed AI risk assessments, with rolling 12 monthly reviews;
  2. AI Register - an obligation for employers to publish a register of any AI decision-making systems in operation; 
  3. Personalised statement - employees, workers, and job seekers would have a right to a personalised statement explaining how AI is making high-risk decisions about them;
  4. Right to human review - employees, workers and job seekers would have a right to human review of any AI decision-making;
  5. A ban on emotion recognition technology where it is used to the detriment of workers, employees, and job seekers; 
  6. Protections against discriminatory algorithms - to guard against the potential for AI to entrench inequality and carry out discriminatory decision-making;
  7. Burden of proof reversed – making it easier to prove AI-based discrimination under the Equality Act 2010;
  8. Employer’s defence - to a discrimination claim where employers can show they have properly audited an AI system;
  9. Right to disconnect – a new statutory right for employees to disconnect outside of agreed working hours; and
  10. Right not to be unfairly dismissed by an AI system - proposed extension to unfair dismissal law to give employees protection against unfair dismissal by AI. 

What next?

The Bill is merely a proposal for new law in this area. Given that the TUC aren’t best of friends with the current Government, it is likely that the Bill won’t be progressed through Parliament before the upcoming General Election. The situation may well change if Labour gain power by the end of the year. 

However, these issues are not going to go away in any event, and a prudent employer might want to think ahead as to how it would want to deal with some of the issues raised and keep up to date with sector-specific developments. 

In the meantime, contact a member of our Employment team if you need any assistance with AI regulation in the workplace.


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