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Disabled people will work the rest of the year for free

The disabled pay gap is higher than it was a decade ago

Disabled people effectively work for free for the last 47 days of the year and stop getting paid today (14 November), according to new analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The pay gap between non-disabled and disabled workers is now 14.6%, higher than it was a decade ago (13.2%), according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “We all deserve to be paid fairly for the work we do. But disabled people continue to be valued less in our jobs market.  

“It’s shameful there has been zero progress on the disability pay gap in the last decade. Being disabled shouldn’t mean you are given a lower wage – or left out of the jobs market altogether.”

Read more: Pension Protection Fund reports first disability pay gap

The pay gap for disabled workers across the board is £1.90 an hour, or £66.50 per week.

Disabled women face the biggest pay gap earning on average 30% less than non-disabled men.

The highest pay gaps are in Wales (21.6% or £2.53 an hour), followed by the South East (19.8% or £2.78 an hour).

The research also found that disability pay gaps also vary by industry. The biggest pay gap is in financial and industrial services at 33.2% (£5.60 an hour). 

Nicola Inge, social impact director at Business in the Community, said employers need to take immediate action.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "It is unacceptable that people with a disability are paid nearly 15% less than those without a disability.

"With two in 10 people in England and Wales having a disability, employers must ensure that they are doing everything they can to address any pay disparities in their workplaces. 

“Employers should first understand if they have a disability pay gap, and if they do, take the appropriate action needed to close it, such as setting ambitious but realistic targets and monitoring progress.”

Read more: HR needs inclusive policies for disability pay gap to shrink

Disabled workers are twice as likely as non-disabled workers to be unemployed at 6.7% compared with 3.3%.

Underemployment contributes to disabled people’s barriers at work according to Steve Hill, commercial director at Auticon, which exclusively employs people on the autism spectrum.

He told HR magazine: “We know from our work to boost employment amongst autistic adults, all too often, autistic workers are ‘underemployed’, which means working to a level far beneath their actual capabilities. 

“Yet, neurodivergent individuals often possess fantastic skills and a unique perspective, which can be invaluable to businesses."

He said employers should work on reasonable adjustments and talent acquisition processes.

He added: “By making relatively small changes, businesses could stand to reap the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce.”