New data has shown that disabled employees earned almost £2 per hour less than non-disabled workers in 2021 as the disability pay gap widens
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has uncovered that the UK’s disability pay gap has widened to 13.8% in 2021. The figures, released on 25 April, showed that disabled employees earn an average of £12.10 per hour, whilst non-disabled employees earn £14.03 per hour a difference of £1.93 per hour.
Historically, the disability pay gap in the UK has been widening since records began in 2014 when the gap was 11.7%. This had increased to an average of 14.1% difference between disabled and non-disabled workers just before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019. However, the gap has slightly narrowed since then, with an average 13.5% gap in 2020, and the latest figures showing the disability pay gap sitting at 13.8% in 2021.
The figures, drawn from the ONS Annual Population Survey and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, also highlighted that disabled men face a wider gap than non-disabled men (12.4%) than disabled women face (10.5%).
The survey has also found that of the UK regions, Scotland faces the widest pay gap for disabled employees at 18.5%, whilst in contrast, Wales has the smallest disability pay gap, at 11.6%
Career trends expert at Glassdoor, Jill Cotton, commented on the figures, stating that they signalled a “missed opportunity” and that employers could “unlock a new talent pool by seeking out overlooked workers such as those with disabilities or health conditions”
Caroline Casey, disability activist and founder of the Valuable 500, agreed with Cotton, saying that disabled employees were “consistently overlooked and underserved”. Casey continued on to say that the ONS’s figures added to a list of discrimination that includes “disproportionate redundancy rates and higher levels of long-term unemployment.”
However, Head of Policy at Business Disability Form, Angela Matthews, warned that figures may not be a measure of workplace inclusion, as some disabled employees prefer to work within lower-paid roles or reduce their hours in order to manage a healthy work-life balance.
Matthews also highlighted that some employers can refuse requests for reduced hours as it may have a negative impact on their disability pay gap data, “We can’t be arguing for more employers to, for example, increase flexible working in one breath if we are also criticising them for how their disability pay gap looks in another,” Matthews stated, adding that “inclusion is about choice”.
The disability pay gap has also been broken down further by the report. This has highlighted the pay gaps between disabled individuals that have differing but comparable characteristics.
According to the data, disabled employees that are limited in their daily activities face a much wider pay gap of 19.9% in comparison to disabled employees who are not limited in their daily activities who face a disability pay gap of 12.1%.
Individuals with six or more impairments have a higher disability pay gap of 19.5% in comparison to those who have one impairment saw the lowest pay gap of 11.7%.
The research has also uncovered that out of all age groups, disabled employees aged 16-19 years old faced the smallest pay gap (0.3%) earning an average of £7.67 per hour whilst their non-disabled counterparts earned an average of £7.69 per hour.
Disabled employees with stomach, heart or other problems had the lowest pay gaps, at 7.6%, 7.6% and 7.1% respectively, and those with sight issues were paid the same as non-disabled employees. In contrast, employees with autism as their primary diagnosis face the highest pay gap out of all groups at 33.5%
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