Department of Labor Announces New Principles for AI and Worker Protection

Department of Labor Announces New Principles for AI and Worker Protection

As AI grows a bigger and more significant presence in the workplace, our Kaizen team is having more conversations about its impact with clients and candidates alike. We understand that it’s more important than ever for companies to have robust guidelines, best practices, and guardrails in place when it comes to adopting new technologies. Because of the novelty of AI and related tech, it can be challenging to balance the drive for innovation with the imperative to protect employees, empower them to be part of the process, and ensure transparency and equity throughout all aspects of AI-impacted work processes.


With that in mind, the U.S. Department of Labor recently released a set of “Principles for Developers and Employers.” These guidelines are designed with the double-edged sword of AI in mind. On the one hand, AI may be able to “augment” many employees’ jobs, reducing the time spent on repetitive tasks and freeing them up to perform other, more complex responsibilities. On the other hand, if adopted too quickly and without a thought for the human impact, AI could undermine workers’ abilities to do their jobs, make a living, and enjoy a workplace free from discrimination and bias.


These Principles are intended to guide the development, implementation, and usage of AI through all stages of its lifecycle. While every industry will have its unique demands, these initial principles can serve as a baseline to help ensure worker dignity, protection, and success while still pursuing innovation.


The department’s guidelines are as follows:


  • Centering Worker Empowerment: Workers and their representatives, especially those from underserved communities, should be informed of and have genuine input in the design, development, testing, training, use, and oversight of AI systems in the workplace. The DOL has identified this point as the “North Star” of all the guidelines.
  • Ethically Developing AI: AI systems should be designed, developed, and trained in a way that protects workers.
  • Establishing AI Governance and Human Oversight: Organizations should have clear governance systems, procedures, human oversight, and evaluation processes for AI systems for use in the workplace.
  • Ensuring Transparency in AI Use: Employers should be transparent with workers and job seekers about the AI systems that are being used in the workplace.
  • Protecting Labor and Employment Rights: AI systems should not violate or undermine workers’ right to organize, health and safety rights, wage and hour rights, and anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation protections.
  • Using AI to Enable Workers: AI systems should assist, complement, and enable workers, and improve job quality.
  • Supporting Workers Impacted by AI: Employers should support or upskill workers during job transitions related to AI.
  • Ensuring Responsible Use of Worker Data: Workers’ data collected, used, or created by AI systems should be limited in scope and location, used only to support legitimate business aims, and protected and handled responsibly.


Thoughtful use of AI could open up many new horizons for companies and employees alike. However, the only way it will be a true success is if its adoption – like the adoption of any new technology – continues to put the well-being and success of human beings at the center. These DOL guidelines certainly won’t be the last framework proposed to balance these demands, and savvy companies will invest now in the knowledge and infrastructure to remain agile in the face of these changes, today and in the future.


Do you still have questions about the intersection of HR and AI? Kaizen is here to help! We’re staying updated on all the latest innovations and developments, and we’re happy to offer our expert advice on navigating this new territory.



Our team at Kaizen HR is on the front lines of these conversations, always listening and learning which trends are having an impact. Paired with our extensive recruiting expertise and networks, that means we can dig down and uncover where candidates stand on these key issues, so you don’t spend valuable time and resources on candidates who aren’t serious about the position. We’re committed to helping you find the right fit, every time – talk to us to learn more.

By Rose Dorta

Are you a high-performing leader or believe you have the potential to tackle a more challenging role? Would you be interested in career opportunities that are seeking these attributes?

I’d love to chat with you and answer any questions that you have. Email me, Rose Dorta, Managing Director of Kaizen HR Solutions, here.


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