New report reveals growing disability pay gap

By agency reporter
May 26, 2018

A new TUC report finds that the disability pay gap has increased to its highest level since 2013.

In 2017, average hourly pay for disabled workers was £9.90, compared to £11.40 for non-disabled workers – a disability pay gap of £1.50 an hour and £2,730 a year.

The disability pay gap has now reached 15 per cent – its highest level since 2013 when the government began publishing comparable data using the 2010 Equality Act definition of disability.

The new report is published to coincide with the TUC’s annual Disabled Workers Conference, which this year takes place in Bournemouth.

It finds that disabled people are less likely to be in employment – and when employed they are paid less than their non-disabled peers.

The other key findings on the disability pay gap are:

  • Low-paid work: Disabled workers are more likely to work in lower-paid occupations than non-disabled workers.
  • Education: Fewer disabled people have higher levels of education which may make it harder to get jobs with higher rates of pay. But even when disabled workers have the same level of education a pay gap remains.
  • Gender: Disabled women face a larger pay gap than disabled men. Compared to non-disabled men, the pay gap is 13 per cent for disabled men and 22 per cent for disabled women.
  • Working hours: More disabled workers are part-time (36.4 per cent) than non-disabled workers (23.4 per cent), which partly accounts for the gap.

The annual disability pay gap of £2,730 is equivalent to: eleven months of the average household spend on food; nine months of household average fuel and power costs; or eight months household average transport expenditure. The gap leaves disabled workers more likely to struggle to meet everyday costs, let alone the additional costs that can be associated with being disabled, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, said: “Too many disabled people face lower pay and worse jobs than their non-disabled peers.

“New rules to make bosses reveal gender pay gaps have been successful at shining a light on the problem. We’d like the government to consider a similar law requiring employers to publish their disability pay gap, along with the steps they will take to close it.

“The government should also reverse cuts to disability benefits, which are making it harder for disabled people to cover extra costs to get to work. And employers should talk to their disabled workers about how to make work more accessible.

“Disabled people can get help by joining a union. Unions reps have experience negotiating with employers to get the support disabled workers need. And they can help make it easier getting to work and being in a job.”

TUC policy proposals to close the disability pay gap:

  • The government should consult on a new law requiring employers to publish their disability pay gap and an action plan to close it.
  • A statutory right to request flexible working from day one in the job.
  • Remove the cap on Access to Work grants, which is preventing disabled people with higher needs accessing appropriate support.
  • Reverse cuts to Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.

TUC proposals for employer action to close the disability pay gap:

  • Consult with disabled staff and trade unions on how to address disability pay gaps.
  • Improve performance meeting Equality Act obligations to put in place reasonable adjustments for disabled workers.
  • Record time off linked to disability separately from sick-leave.
  • Advertise more jobs – at all levels – on a flexible and part-time basis to improve accessibility for disabled workers.

Data in the report is from the Labour Force Survey Q3 2013 to Q2 2017. In Q2 2017 there were 3,492,400 disabled people in employment, this means that 49.2 per cent of disabled people between the age of 16 and 64 are in employment. In the same quarter the employment rate for non-disabled people was 80.6 per cent, giving a disability employment gap of 31.4 percentage points.

The TUC has adopted the social model of disability. The social model sees the person first and argues that the barriers they face, in combination with their impairments, are what disables them. Barriers can make it impossible or very difficult to access jobs, buildings or services, but the biggest barrier of all is the problem of people’s attitude to disability. Removing the barriers is the best way to include millions of disabled people in our society.

The TUC Disabled Workers conference is taking place on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 May at the Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth.

* Read the report Disability employment and pay gaps 2018  here

* Trades Union Congress https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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