With the wave of automation rapidly taking over various industries, it is becoming increasingly common for automated systems to make decisions in the workplace. Automation can mean increased productivity and efficiency, but its impact on workers, especially those in low-wage industries, raises worrying questions.
Potential harms and abuses caused by automated systems in the workplace can take many forms. Automation can lead to job losses, reduced wages, and decreased job satisfaction, due to the inability of workers to negotiate or contest decisions. Automation can also exacerbate existing inequalities, leading to biases and discrimination, particularly against marginalized groups.
Fortunately, there are steps that employers can take to mitigate the potential harms and abuses of automated systems in the workplace.
First, employers should ensure that any automated systems used to make decisions about workers are designed and programmed with fairness and transparency in mind. Employers should strive to create systems that are free of bias and discrimination, and are open to challenge and scrutiny by workers and relevant external actors.
Second, employers should explore the possibility of introducing a human element into the decision-making process, allowing workers to challenge decisions and giving them a voice in the process. Employers should also reconsider the roles that workers can play in automated systems, to ensure that workers’ rights are respected and their needs are taken into account.
Finally, employers should introduce policies and procedures to ensure that automated systems are subject to independent review, ensuring that decisions are in line with anti-discrimination legislation, labor legislation and other relevant laws. Employers should also provide employees with sufficient training and support to enable them to understand the potential risks and benefits of automated systems, and to hold employers to account if necessary.
By taking these steps, employers can ensure that automated systems are used fairly and responsibly in the workplace, and that workers are protected from harm and abuse.