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Disability employment gap worse for men than women

Disabled men are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled men, disabled women and non-disabled women in the UK.

Disabled men in the UK are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled men, disabled women and non-disabled women. 

Analysis of ONS and government data from mobility equipment company Middletons found a gap of 31% between the employment of disabled and non-disabled men, compared to 25% for women. 

This is despite the fact that the number of disabled people in work has increased by 54% over the last decade, meaning the equivalent to 1.5 million disabled people entered work between 2013 and 2021.

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The research also showed that disabled workers were more likely to be self employed (14.8%) than non-disabled workers (14.1%).

Erica Vonderwall, a self employed and disabled PR consultant, said self employment is usually the simpler option for disabled workers.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "I'm not surprised to see how many disabled workers are actually self-employed, as this often seems like the better option for many where workplaces aren't able to cater as well as people need.

"However, with the rising number of workers across the UK identifying themselves as disabled, it is surely in the best interest of businesses to make reasonable adjustments to ensure their workforce are set up for success.

"For me, my diagnosis is ADHD and autism, and so I know I work better away from the distractions of an office, away from bright lights and sensory overload, and so working from home is my preferred workplace."

Middletons founder Ricky Towler said that proper investment in flexible working helps level the playing field for disabled staff, as well as making offices more accessible.

He said: "Flexible working is a buzz term that is not going anywhere, as Brits are searching for things like 'work from home' on average 30,000 times per month in the UK. If working from home isn’t an option, then simply addressing working hours, personal breaks and shift patterns can also support employees with disabilities, as can adjusting responsibilities of the employee.

“Making a workplace accessible for disabled employees is a huge show of support from a business, especially if additional equipment or devices can be available for these employees."

Qualifications were not a big factor in bridging the employment gap for disabled workers.

Government data showed that the employment rate for non-disabled people with qualifications was noticeably higher (80%) than it was for disabled workers (58%). 

The health, retail and education sectors accounted for 43% the disabled workforce, compared to 35% for non disabled workers.