UK 2021 disability pay gap narrows to 13.8%

Poll: Would your organisation publish disability pay gap data?New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the UK’s disability pay gap was 13.8% in 2021 and 14.1% in 2019 prior to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

In 2021, disabled employees earned £12.10 per hour and non-disabled employees £14.03 per hour, while in 2019, disabled staff earned £10.87 per hour and non-disabled employees £12.66 per hour.

The gap, which is between disabled employees and non-disabled employees’ median pay, has widened slightly since 2014, when disabled employees earned 12% less than non-disabled employees (£9.71 and £11 per hour respectively).

The findings also highlighted that the gap has consistently been wider for disabled men than for disabled women, with disabled men’s median pay in 2021 being 12% less than non-disabled men (£13.25 and £15.12 per hour respectively), and median pay for disabled women being 11% less than non-disabled women (£11.51 and £12.86 per hour).

In 2021, the median pay for disabled employees living in Wales was 12% less than non-disabled employees, which was the narrowest of all four UK nations. Scotland had the widest disability pay gap of 19%.

Disabled employees limited in their day-to-day activities in 2021 consistently had a wider pay gap to non-disabled employees without a long-lasting health condition of 20%, whereas disabled employees whose day-to-day activities were limited a little had a gap of 12%.

Staff with autism as their main impairment had a wider pay gap in 2021 than of those with other types of impairment, with their median pay standing at 33% less than non-disabled employees without a long-lasting health condition.

According to the ONS, adjusting for personal and job characteristics narrows the pay gap seen between most groups of disabled employees and non-disabled employees without a long-lasting health condition. The largest narrowing was seen for disabled workers with autism as their main impairment, where the adjusted pay gap was 10% compared with a non-adjusted pay gap of 34%.

Senior ONS statistician Hugh Stickland said: “The 2021 figures show there remains a gap between the average pay of disabled and non-disabled employees. When considering these differences, however, it’s important to consider individual characteristics and experiences, such as the type or severity of impairment of disabled employees, as well as other characteristics such as age, sex or occupation.”

Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor, commented: “The disability pay gap is a sign of missed opportunity. The UK is in the midst of an acute imbalance between labour supply and demand.

“Employers who think creatively can unlock new talent pools by seeking out overlooked workers such as those with disabilities or health conditions. Put simply, more needs to be done.”