DOL: Don’t Let AI Do All the Work

As many of you know, my life’s dream is to wake up to Rosie the Robot from the Jetson’s cartoon wheeling around my house, dusting and cleaning. Sadly, that 1960s idea of technology is not how we live today. Artificial intelligence–technology that enables computers and machines to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving –is growing exponentially, with countless uses. Human Resources  departments of all sizes have embraced AI. In turn, the Department of Labor (DOL)  is trying to stay ahead of the ways that technology could violate federal laws.

Yesterday, the DOL, Wage and Hour Division, published new guidance on the use of AI and automated systems in wage and hour calculations and to administer the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To be clear, non-compliance with the FLSA or FMLA because software or a system miscalculated hours, eligibility, leave time or any other factor will not be allowed. The gist of the DOL guidance is clear: Without human oversight, these automated systems could create compliance issues and employers have been warned.

The guidance highlighted some specific examples where AI alone is discouraged. Giving the DOL a chance to take a swipe at  surveillance systems, the guidance states :  “…artificial intelligence or monitoring systems that use keystrokes, eye movements, internet browsing, or other activity to measure productivity are not determinative of whether an employee is performing ‘hours worked’ under the FLSA.” AI cannot accurately determine break time either, under this guidance. This DOL bulletin also warns of automated systems requesting more eligibility checks or medical information than permitted under the FMLA. That’s not good Watson.

TAKEAWAY: Artificial intelligence and automated systems are useful tools but cannot replace the human touch for HR to remain in compliance. Maybe, in a few years, I can finally get Rosie the Robot and you can use AI for everything. JK.

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