Fairwork AI Principles

The following principles are used by Fairwork to assess the working conditions behind the development and deployment AI systems in the context of an employment relation. Last updated on 27 July 2023, they build on the previous AI for Fair Work principles established by the GPAI in 2022.

Principle 1: Fair Pay

1.1 - Pays at least the local minimum wage

To achieve this point, the employer takes appropriate steps to ensure ALL of the following:   

  • Workers, regardless of their employment status or contract type, must earn the local minimum wage [1] or the wage set by collective sectoral agreement (whichever is higher) for all hours worked. [2]
  • Workers, regardless of their employment status or contract type, are paid on time and in-full. 

1.2 - Pays at least the local living wage

Minimum wage can be insufficient to ensure workers and their dependents a basic but decent standard of living. The living wage exists to set the benchmark of what is required to enable this decent standard of living.[3]

To achieve this point, the employer takes appropriate steps to ensure the following:

  • Workers, regardless of their employment status or contract type, must earn at least the living wage, or the wage set by collective sectoral agreement (whichever is higher) for all hours worked.

Principle 2: Fair Conditions

2.1 - Ensures safe working conditions

Workers face several risks in the course of their work, including strain, exhaustion, and exposure to traumatic content. They have a right to protection from these risks.[4] Employers must show they are aware of task specific risks and take steps to mitigate them.

To achieve this point, the employer must satisfy ALL of the following:

  • Implement policies and practices that protect workers’ safety from task specific risks. This should, at a minimum, account for well-evidenced risks such as:
    • High job strain, which can lead to a range of negative health impacts including cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders.   
    • Secondary traumatic stress, which can be associated with repeated exposure to traumatic content.  
    • Muscular skeletal injuries, which may emerge as a result of unsuitable equipment, excessive workload or perverse incentivisation in physical jobs.
  • The employer places a maximum limit on standard working time that meets either the applicable national regulation or, in cases where there is no applicable national regulation, the ILO standard of 40 hours a week.[5]
  • Workers are entitled to take breaks during working time that is defined under the applicable national regulation, or in cases where there is no applicable national regulation, is equivalent to a minimum of one hour for every eight hours worked.
  • If the work arrangements require workers to work in shifts, workers are given the option to choose their shifts, and reasonable accommodations are made for workers with additional needs due to health, safety and other personal reasons (such as pregnancy, care requirements, disability and other health conditions.)

2.2 - Ensures paid leave, and a safety net

Workers are vulnerable to the possibility of losing their income as the result of unexpected or external circumstances, such as sickness or injury. Most countries provide a social safety net to ensure workers don’t experience sudden poverty due to circumstances outside their control. However, not all workers might qualify for the social safety protections due to their own personal circumstances (e.g. visa status, residency status). In recognition of the fact that most workers are dependent on income they earn from the work, employers must ensure that workers are compensated for loss of income due to inability to work. In addition, employers must minimise the risk of sickness and injury.

To achieve this point, the employer must ensure ALL of the following:

  • Workers have access to paid time-off (such as bereavement, parental, sick and annual leave.)
  • Where core medical treatment is not provided by a public system, such as a national healthcare scheme, the employer makes a meaningful provision to the health care costs of its workers.

Principle 3: Fair Contracts

3.1 - Provides decent contracts

Employment on temporary contracts can have significant negative effects on job satisfaction, well-being and health. Short-term contracts, such as those lasting one to three months or with no guaranteed working hours, place workers in precarious positions and are likely to exacerbate these negative effects.

To achieve this point, the employer must meet ALL of the following:

  • Workers must sign a contract and/or give informed consent to terms of conditions upon signing up, and for each subsequent contract extension.
  • The contract or terms and conditions is presented in full, in clear and comprehensible language that all workers could be expected to understand.
  • The contract or terms and conditions are easily accessible to workers in paper and/or electronic form. If these conditions differ for different contract types, reasonable steps are taken to inform workers about the differences in contract types.
  • The party employing the worker must be identified in the contract or terms and conditions, and subject to the law of the place in which the worker works.
  • Workers working on long-term projects that exceed the probation time are provided with the option to sign an employment contract lasting at a minimum the same length of time as the project.
  • The contracts or terms and conditions do not include clauses that revert prevailing legal frameworks in the countries where workers work.

3.2 - Provides secure employment

Whilst fixed-term employment may be suitable for some workers’ circumstances, secure employment is a fundamental improvement of working conditions for many others.

To achieve this point, the employer must meet ALL of the following:

  • Workers with three years or more of consistent short-term employment should be provided with the option to move onto permanent contracts if they so desire.
  • The employer should make reasonable adjustments in wages and conditions between both: fixed-term and permanent employees and outsourced workers; and any outsourced or indirectly employed workers and directly employed workers. Workers who are outsourced or indirectly employed should be compensated for additional costs incurred, including visa/work permits and their extensions, insurance, pensions, and other social security premiums.
  • In cases of justified redundancy or contract non-renewal, the employer should provide workers with severance allowance commensurate with tenure at the company and retraining opportunities. In cases where the redundancies are being made because reasons of an economic, technological, structural or similar nature, workers or their representatives are consulted, and steps are taken to minimise the resulting redundancies.[6]
  • If desired, workers should be able to invite worker representatives to their end of contract meetings with the relevant HR departments.
  • In the case of subcontracting arrangements, where part or all of the work is subcontracted to other companies, management implements a reliable mechanism to monitor and ensure that the subcontractor is living up to the standards expected from the company itself regarding working conditions.


Principle 4: Fair Management

4.1 - Treats workers fairly

The employment relation is an unequal one, with managers being afforded significant legal and economic sources of power not available to most workers. The interests of these two groups may diverge, leading to sometimes opposed immediate interests in the workplace. This dynamic can lead to unfair management practices.

To achieve this point, the employer must meet ALL of the following:

  • Management should refrain from deploying any form of depersonalised bullying or mobbing in order to ensure organisational goals are met.[7]
  • There is a policy in place which guarantees that any form of harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated.
  • There is a policy in place which guarantees that the employer will not discriminate against persons on the grounds of racial, ethnic, social or minority background, caste, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, language, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, geographical location, or any other status.
  • Workers should have the right to appeal dismissals and other disciplinary measures.
  • Workers are not disadvantaged for voicing concerns or appealing disciplinary actions.

4.2 - Creates clear and effective systems for data management, explanations, and appeals

Contemporary workplaces are increasingly defined by data. The use of AI systems and automated management processes exacerbates both the incentives for employers to gather data from the work process, and diminishes the importance of workers’ existing rights to receive explanations, appeal decisions, and access/own their data.

To achieve this point, the employer must meet ALL of the following:

  • Where AI systems are involved in work, employers must create explainability mechanisms such as transparency reports or question and answer processes that allow workers to understand both the model behaviour of the system as a whole and specific decisions.[8]
  • Workers must be able to appeal decisions made by AI systems through a multi-stakeholder process that reflects collective worker voice, and successful appeals to lead not only that specific decision being revised but also wider revisions of decision-making process.[9]
  • Management avoids excessive surveillance in the workplace, and avoids use of invasive technologies.
  • Workers must not be subject to excessive data collection practices and should be informed about the data that is being collected about them. Employers must apply the principle of data minimisation (collecting the minimum amount of personal data required to fulfil a legitimate purpose) in their collection processes.


Principle 5: Fair Representation

5.1 - Assures freedom of association and the expression of worker voice

Freedom of association is a fundamental right for all workers, and enshrined in the constitution of the International Labour Organisation, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right for workers to organise, collectively express their wishes – and importantly – be listened to, is an important prerequisite for fair working conditions.

To achieve this point, the employer must satisfy ALL of the following:

  • There is a documented mechanism for the expression of collective worker voice that allows ALL workers, regardless of contract type or duration to participate in collective groups without risks.[10]
  • There is a formal, written statement of willingness to recognise, and bargain with, a collective, independent body of workers or trade union, that is clearly communicated to all workers, and available on the company webpage.[11]
  • Freedom of association is not inhibited, and workers are not disadvantaged in any way for communicating their concerns, wishes and demands to the company management, or expressing willingness to form independent collective bodies of representation.

5.2 - Supports democratic governance

To realise fair representation, workers must have a say in the conditions of their work. This could be through a democratically governed cooperative model, a formally recognised union, or the ability to undertake collective bargaining with the employer.

To achieve this point, the employers must satisfy at least ONE of the following:

  • Workers play a meaningful role in governing the company.
  • In a written document available, the company publicly and formally recognises an independent collective body of workers, an elected works council, or trade union, and takes meaningful steps towards signing a collective bargaining agreement. This recognition is not exclusive and, when the legal framework allows, the company should recognise any significant collective body seeking representation.[12]



Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a set of technologies that seek to make computers do the sorts of things that minds can do. Different kinds of AI can perform an ever-increasing range of tasks, from image recognition to language processing, using a variety of computing methods.


1. The ILO defines minimum wage as the “minimum amount of remuneration that an employer is required to pay wage earners for the work performed during a given period, which cannot be reduced by collective agreement or an individual contract.” Minimum wage laws protect workers from unduly low pay and help them attain a minimum standard of living. The ILO’s Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 C135 sets the conditions and requirements of establishing minimum wages and calls upon all ratifying countries to act in accordance. Minimum wage laws exist in more than 90 per cent of the ILO member states.
2. This means not only that the rate of pay agreed with workers reaches that statutory level, but also that workers are accurately compensated for all hours worked. Underpayment (also known as ‘wage theft’) is a pervasive problem, with evidence suggesting that huge sums of value go unpaid due to unpaid overtime, and incomplete/inaccurate wage payments.
3. Where a living wage does not exist, Fairwork will use the Global Living Wage Coalition’s Anker Methodology to estimate one.
4. The ILO recognises health and safety at work as a fundamental right. Where the platform directly engages the worker, the starting point is the ILO’s Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (C155). This stipulates that employers shall be required “so far as is reasonably practicable, the workplaces, machinery, equipment and processes under their control are safe and without risk to health”, and that “where necessary, adequate protective clothing and protective equipment [should be provided] to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, risk of accidents or of adverse effects on health.”
5.  As endorsed by the ILO’s Forty-Hour Week Convention, 1935 (No.47) and the Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation, 1962 (No.116)
6. The ILO Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 (No. 158) defines worker representative consultation as sufficient when the employer provides “the workers’ representatives concerned in good time with relevant information including the reasons for the terminations contemplated, the number and categories of workers likely to be affected and the period over which the terminations are intended to be carried out” and gives “in accordance with national law and practice, the workers’ representatives concerned, as early as possible, an opportunity for consultation on measures to be taken to avert or to minimise the terminations and measures to mitigate the adverse effects of any terminations on the workers concerned such as finding alternative employment.”
7. Depersonalized bullying is a form of workplace mistreatment where employees are unfairly treated not because of who they are, but because of the organization’s system or structure, constitutes a situation where harmful behaviour, like intimidation or aggression, are applied impersonally across the workforce by supervisors or managers in the name of achieving company goals.
8. Workers have a right to understand how the use of AI impacts their work and working conditions. Organisations must respect this right and provide detailed, understandable resources to allow workers to exercise it.
9. The automation of decision making can lead to reductions in accountability and fairness. But building in human oversight into a decision-making loop does not solve this problem. Instead, the subjects of those decisions need to be empowered to challenge them, and a renewed emphasis should be placed on the liability of those stakeholders who direct the development and deployment of AI systems in the workplace.
10. A mechanism for the expression of collective worker voice will allow workers to participate in the setting of agendas so as to be able to table issues that most concern them. This mechanism can be in physical or virtual form (e.g. online meetings) and should involve meaningful interaction (e.g. not surveys). It should also allow for ALL workers to participate in regular meetings with the management.
11. For example, “[the company] will support any effort by its workers to collectively organise or form a trade union. Collective bargaining through trade unions can often bring about more favourable working conditions.”
12. If workers choose to seek representation from an independent collective body of workers or union that is not readily recognized by the platform, the platform should then be open to adopt multiple channels of representation, when the legal framework allows, or seek ways to implement workers’ queries to its communication with the existing representative body.