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The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has recently published a report, 'Transformed by AI: how generative artificial intelligence could affect work in the UK and how to manage it'.

The report sets out two key stages to the adoption of generative AI (GenAI): the first wave which is currently taking place, and the second wave where employers will integrate existing AI technologies further and more deeply into their processes.

The IPPR analysed 22,000 job tasks and found that there was already an impact on 11% of them, generally comprising route cognitive tasks such as database management and organisational and strategic tasks, such as scheduling or inventory management. The report found that this percentage will increase to 59% of tasks in the second wave, and that this will impact non-routine cognitive tasks and higher-earning jobs.

The report identified those most likely to be affected in the first wave as:

  • Those holding or seeking back-office, entry-level and part-time jobs, such as secretarial, administrative and customer service roles.
  • Women, as a greater proportion work in impacted roles.
  • Young people, as employers hire fewer people into entry-level jobs, introducing AI technologies instead.
  • Low to medium-level earners, as they are most likely to be replaced by AI.

Three illustrative scenarios have been modelled by the IPPR for the second wave, ranging from the worst-case scenario with all jobs at risk, to the best-case scenario with all jobs at risk augmented to adapt to AI instead of being replaced. The IPPR urges the government to take action to avoid the worst-case scenario and recommends that a job-centric industrial strategy is developed that encourages job transitions and ensure that the benefits of automation are shared widely across the economy. This should include supporting green jobs and "social occupations", which are more resilient to automation, regulatory change and offering tax incentives or subsidies to encourage job augmentation rather than displacement. Another recommendation made in the report is the ringfencing of some tasks to ensure continued human involvement, including those involving ethical sensitivity and moral judgments and creative originality and artistic expression.

Meanwhile, in other AI news, a taskforce commissioned by the TUC has published a draft bill which suggests a legislative framework for regulating the use of AI in the workplace. The draft Artificial Intelligence (Employment and Regulation) Bill aims to regulate the use of AI systems by employers in relation to workers, employees and jobseekers to protect their rights and interests in the workplace. It also provides for trade union rights in relation to the use of AI systems by employers and is designed to enable the development of safe, secure and fair AI systems in the employment field.

The AI Bill would apply to "high-risk" decision-making. This is broadly defined as decision-making which has the capacity or potential to produce legal effects concerning a worker, employee or jobseeker or other similarly significant effects and would include key decisions such as hiring, firing and assessing performance. It contains provision for a "Workplace AI Risk Assessment" (WAIRA) which will assess an SI system in relation to health and safety, equality, data protection and human rights risks. The AI Bill makes it easier to prove AI-based discrimination has taken place under the Equality Act 2010, and also provides a statutory defence where an employer cannot discharge the burden of proof.

The Bill includes a statutory right to disconnect for employees which the TUC believes will guard against AI-driven work intensification. It provides for "agreed working hours", so an employer would not be able to require an employee to monitor or respond to any work-related communications or to carry out any work outside these hours (unless there's a different agreement under a collective agreement or a relevant workforce agreement).

Finally, the draft AI Bill creates a type of automatic unfair dismissal where the reason or principal reason for the dismissal is unfair reliance on high-risk decision-making. Many of the provisions in the Bill are backed up by the right to bring an employment tribunal claim.