Disabled staff work the ‘next two months for free’

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The size of the disability pay gap means the average disabled employee effectively works for free for the last two months of the year and earns around £3,000 less annually than their non-disabled peers.

That is according to analysis by the TUC, which found disabled workers earn on average £1.65 per hour less than workers without a disability (£10.63 per hour compared with £12.28 per hour). This equates to a pay gap of 15.5%.

This means that the average person with a disability under the Equality Act works for free for 57 days from today (Monday 4 November).

People with a disability were also less likely to be in employment than non-disabled peers. Only 51.8% of disabled people were in work, compared with 81.6% of non-disabled people.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everybody deserves a fair chance to get a job with decent pay. Being disabled should not exclude you from choosing to work. And it should not mean you’re put on a lower wage.

“The current government has behaved like they just don’t care. From PIP [Personal Independence Payment] to pay, they have failed disabled people. Support for independent living has been scrapped. And at every turn, disabled people have been at the frontline of austerity.

“The next government must show they care about disabled people in Britain today. A good start would be a new law to make employers publish their disability pay gap and a plan of action to address it.”

Many disabled employees had been forced to go without basics such as food and central heating because their wages did not stretch far enough, according to a poll of 2,700 people by the TUC and GQR.

More than a third (35%) of disabled staff have gone without heating on a cold day, compared with 17% of workers without a disability; 34% were buying less food for themselves (18% non-disabled workers); and 20% had put off buying clothes for their children because they lacked the money (12% non-disabled staff).

The TUC launched a petition calling on the government to make it make it compulsory for employers to publish their disability pay gaps in the same way they report on their gender pay gap.

Earlier this year the government said it would look into mandatory disability pay gap reporting as well ethnicity pay reporting, but no plans for introducing either have been announced.

The disability pay gap was widest in the East of England region (21.8%), according to the TUC’s analysis. This was followed by Wales (17.7%), Yorkshire and Humberside (15.4%) and the West Midlands (15.3%).

The disability pay gap was calculated using the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey data from 2018 Q3 and Q4 and 2019 Q1 and Q2.

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