Australia maximises job security of employees amidst AI disruption

The Australian government is looking to protect employees from the effects of AI, including requiring employers to retrain and upskill them.
By: | August 29, 2023

As part of protecting employees against the threat of artificial intelligence (AI), employers in Australia may be required by law to retrain them in the technology to keep them hired. 

This is part of the Labour Party’s key plan to regulate the effects of AI, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) pushing for a regulatory body to monitor automation. This potential regulation comes as employers are already petitioning against the Australian government over the next wave of industrial reforms, with Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke announcing these changes in a National Press Club address this week. 

Burke discussed protections of employees from AI at an event at the University of Sydney last week, explaining that there was “a lot of work” being done on AI and explained how the Australian government wants to ensure opportunities for employees to use the technology so that they reduce redundancies.  

“We’re trying to work through some concepts as to how do you maximise the opportunity for secure work knowing that technology changes, knowing that technology will change and it will come,” the minister said, saying that a fundamental difference to the continuity of the workplace would arise if employees were trained to use AI.

READ MORE: AI’s dual impact on Singapore’s HR landscape

The ACTU has been pushing to set up a new government body to manage the AI revolution, warning that only one third of displaced workers managed to secure employment in previous structural adjustments to the economy.

At Labour’s national conference this month, the party’s platform was changed to support people to get the skills needed via upskilling to maintain current employment, or by reskilling to transition into other secure, well-paid jobs. They called for employers to proactively support their workers attaining these opportunities, reported the Financial Review.