The role of data and AI at the workplace

How to mitigate risks and optimise benefits?

Friday, November 17, 2023
Parallel Session 3
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM


New technologies and data-processing capacities increase employers’ possibilities to enhance efficiency and productivity. They can also benefit workers, by allowing them to shift from time-consuming, mundane tasks to more rewarding ones. At the same time, employers’ enhanced abilities to collect data to monitor work processes on a broad scale raises challenges. Where surveillance of workers is excessive and without adequate guardrails, this can put workers’ data protection and privacy rights at risk. Designing and deploying technologies on the basis of ethics and transparency can help mitigate information asymmetries between employers and workers. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) contains important data rights for workers and the proposed Directive on Artificial Intelligence includes safeguards for high-risk AI used in the employment context. The proposed Platform Work Directive sets rules for algorithmic management, designed with the specific business model of labour platforms in mind. However, a range of approaches, including by companies, will be needed to harness the power of data for the benefit of workers and employers. 

The workshop will address the following questions:  

  • What are the risks and benefits of deployment of AI and algorithms at the workplace and what role does data play?  
  • Which level of monitoring of workers’ activities by employers is acceptable and how could we define boundaries to prevent harm? 
  • What steps can companies take to mitigate risks of use of AI and employee data at the workplace (e.g. excessive surveillance, information asymmetry) and ensure that workers also benefit? 
  • Are existing rules sufficient in the employment context or do we need new approaches and rights?  Can collective bargaining play a role?  
  • What is the potential of worker data trusts for enforcing workers’ rights and for collective bargaining?