The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has brought significant changes to various aspects of our lives, including the world of work. AI and its associated technologies are increasingly being integrated into recruitment processes, management systems, and other employment-related functions. While AI offers numerous advantages, it also presents complex legal challenges in the realm of employment law. In this blog, we explore the implications of AI in employment and examine the proposed regulatory reforms.
The Pervasive Use of AI in Employment
AI is now employed in various capacities within the employment landscape. Notably, it is utilised in: Recruitment: AI algorithms are used to draft job adverts, source potential candidates, and screen CVs. Additionally, some recruiters employ automatically scored tests as part of their selection process.
Current Employment Law and AI
As of now, there are no specific UK laws that directly govern the use of AI and algorithmic management tools in the workplace. Nevertheless, several existing areas of law impose restrictions on the practical application of AI in employment.
- Common Law: Traditionally, the employment relationship is based on the principle of personal service, which requires mutual trust and confidence between employers and employees. The use of AI in decision-making may undermine this trust, potentially leading to legal disputes.
- Equalities Law: The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination by employers based on protected characteristics such as age, sex, or race. AI tools can introduce biases due to the data they are trained on, making them potentially discriminatory. Care must be taken to minimise such biases.
- Privacy Law: The right to privacy, protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, imposes limitations on surveillance tools used to monitor employees.
- Data Protection Law: UK GDPR Article 22 grants individuals the right not to be subject to decisions solely based on automated processing, including profiling, if it produces significant legal effects. While this could restrict AI decision-making, enforcement of this provision by the Information Commissioner’s Office is yet to occur.
The UK Government has outlined its approach to regulating AI in its March 2023 white paper, “A Pro-Innovation Approach to AI Regulation.” This approach relies on existing regulators and five principles: safety, transparency, fairness, accountability, and contestability.However, this approach has faced criticism for being laisses-faire, with calls for more interventionist measures. Other organisations, such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Work, propose the Accountability for Algorithms Act, while the AI Law Consultancy suggests a range of reforms and new statutory guidance.
Internationally, the EU is developing its AI Act, which takes a more interventionist approach to AI regulation.
The integration of AI into employment practices in the UK raises complex legal questions and concerns. While there are currently no specific laws governing AI in the workplace, existing legislation and policy proposals provide a framework for addressing these issues. As AI continues to shape the employment landscape, it is essential for employers, employees, and policymakers to collaborate in establishing a regulatory framework that balances innovation with the protection of rights and values.For comprehensive legal guidance and advice on employment matters in the age of AI, Jarmans Solicitors stands ready to assist. Our team of legal experts can help you navigate the evolving landscape of AI and employment law, ensuring compliance and fairness in your workplace. Contact us today to learn more.