international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: Important new UK government policy papers on disability and Artificial Intelligence


Transforming support: the health and disability White Paper sets out how the UK government proposes to help unemployed disabled people and those with health conditions get back into work, and to remain there.  The paper sets out the key ways to achieve this goal: first by increasing employment support and secondly by reforming the benefits system.  Proposals for increasing support include for example improved access to Occupational Health (OH) services, more advice and information services, and new Access to Work initiatives.

Later this year the UK government will be seeking views in a consultation on a draft Disability Action plan which will set out the practical action the government will take.  The proposals to improve employment support should assist disabled people and those with long term health conditions get back to work.  The initiatives should also help employers understand the benefits of employing disabled people and provide support to employers to help them do so.  Although the improvements to the employment support have been welcomed, there has been some criticism from disability groups over the proposals to reform the benefits system.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

Employers should continue to invest time and resources in the support and management of employees with health conditions or disabilities.  This will help improve workplace culture, reduce long term absences, grievances and tribunal claims.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation – GOV.UK ( is a UK government policy paper setting out a framework to guide the UK’s approach to regulating AI and follows a government consultation in 2022 calling for views on the regulation of artificial intelligence.   In short, the UK government will not create a single regulatory function to govern AI.  Instead, it will support existing regulators to develop a bespoke approach to use within their sectors.  These will include the Information Commissioner’s Office, Competition and Markets Authority, Health and Safety Executive, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

These regulators will issue guidance over the next 12 months.  A consultation has been launched to consider how best to shape a co-ordinated regulatory approach and to monitor the effectiveness of the AI framework. Following the consultation (which closes on 21 June 2023) the UK government will decide whether legislation should be introduced to support the regulatory guidance.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

Employers are using AI at all stages of the employment lifecycle, and particularly with recruitment – CV sifting, targeted job adverts etc.  Using AI in this way can expose business to discrimination risk as well as other risks such as unfair dismissal claims and data protection breaches.  There are currently no UK laws explicitly designed to regulate AI but we are now seeing a material shift towards greater AI governance  – the ICO and EHRC for example have already issued guidance on the topic. This policy UK government paper lays the foundations for more guidance and potential regulation. Employers should watch this space carefully because experience suggests that a co-ordinated regulatory approach will be very difficult to achieve, particularly in such a compressed time-scale.