Labour Law and Artificial Intelligence Conference

Event: Social Justice and Trade Unions

FES and the Chinese University of Politics and Law (CUPL) held a two-day seminar on the implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies for labour law regulations.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly used across many industries and is likely to fundamentally shape the way people live and work.

While the benefits of these innovations are immense, undeniable and seemingly unstoppable, they represent new challenges to employees and labour law at the same time. These challenges arise globally, wherever AI is at work and countries are responding differently to them.

In the context of their long-term cooperation, FES Beijing and CUPL hosted a two day off- and online seminar, inviting scholars from China and abroad to discuss various aspects of AI’s impact on labour law. Among others, the discussion was joined by German labour law pioneer Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Däubler from the University of Bremen, his colleague Prof. Dr. Benedikt Buchner and lawyer Dr. Thomas Klebe. On the Chinese side, Prof. Dr. Lou Yu, director of CUPL’s Institute for Labour Law coordinated the event. Prof. Dr. Shi Jianzhong, Vice President of CUPL, and Prof. Dr. Ye Jingyi, Vice President of the Chinese Society for Labour Law, greeted the participants. 

The debate focused on four key areas: first, what are the general challenges of AI towards labour law? Second, how to guarantee fairness and avoid discrimination when AI is consulted for decisions related to human resources? Third, how to reconcile AI application with established forms of employee participation? Fourth, how to guarantee individual data protection of employees when AI technology is put to use?

As it became clear during the discussions, technological developments often tend to race ahead of legal provisions. It is thus necessary to constantly strive for new answers as to how AI and other technologies can improve people’s and workers’ livelihood. At the same time, it is also important to keep updating the definition of what constitutes an “employee” and how to hold enterprises responsible for those working for them.

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