Quinn Roache: How can employers address the disability pay gap?

quinn roache

Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Disability employment and pay gap, published in November 2019, shows that in the UK the average disability pay gap is 15.5%. This is equivalent to being paid a £1.65 less per hour, or a whopping £3,000 less per year, based on a 35-hour working week.

The disability pay gap also varies, for example with disabled women earning 25.9% less than non-disabled men.

The impact of the pay gap on disabled workers is clear, with one in five putting off buying children’s clothes due to lack of money, one in three cutting back on food for themselves and the same number going without heating on cold days. It means less; less money for food, fuel and power and transport.

The disability pay gap is about inequalities and a lack of fairness. Everybody deserves a fair chance to get a job with decent pay; everyone would agree that being disabled should not stop you from working, and should not mean you are put on a lower wage.

But the pay gap shows just the opposite: that disabled people are excluded from work and are put on a lower wage.

However, employers can act now to make sure their workplaces are fair, and their staff feel valued.

Employers can, and should, examine their workplace data to identify and address their disability pay gap, in a similar manner to gender pay gap reporting, for example by including the proportion of disabled people in each pay quarter.

Where an organisation identifies a pay gap or an under-representation of disabled people, it should use positive action as a way of addressing these issues. This could include: hosting an open day specifically for disabled people to encourage them to get into a particular field, or offering training or internships to help disabled workers get opportunities or progress at work.

Employers should also take measures to ensure disabled staff and applicants feel confident taking part in workforce equality monitoring, to ensure the evidence base is robust. These measures should be developed with their disabled workers and recognised trade unions.

Quinn Roache is disability policy officer at the Trades Union Congress (TUC)