New analysis published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) shows that non-disabled workers now earn a sixth (17.2%) more than disabled workers. The analysis found that the pay gap for disabled workers currently stands at £2.05 an hour – or £3,731 per year for someone working a 35-hour week.
This pay gap – which has increased from 16.5% last year – means that disabled people effectively work for free for the last 54 days of the year and stop getting paid on 7 November, the day the TUC has branded Disability Pay Gap Day.
Disability pay gap by gender and age
The new TUC analysis reveals that disabled women face the biggest pay gap. Non-disabled men are paid on average 35% (£3.93 an hour, or £7,144 a year) more than disabled women.
The research also shows that the disability pay gap persists for workers throughout their careers. It starts at age 20 at 65p an hour and increases steadily with age to a peak of £3.55 an hour, or £6,461 a year, for disabled workers aged 40 to 44.
Regional and industrial disability pay gaps
The analysis looked at pay data from across the country and found disability pay gaps in every region of England.
The highest pay gaps are in the South East (22% or £2.78 an hour), and the West Midlands and the South West (both 17% or £2.20 an hour).
Not only are disabled workers paid less than non-disabled workers, they are also more likely to be excluded from the job market. Disabled workers are now twice as likely as non-disabled workers to be unemployed (6.8% compared to 3.4%). And the analysis shows disabled BME workers face a much tougher labour market – 10.9% of BME disabled workers are unemployment compared to 2.8% of white non-disabled workers.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everybody deserves a fair chance to get a job with decent pay. Being disabled should not mean you’re on a lower wage – or that you’re excluded from the jobs market altogether.
“It’s time to introduce mandatory disability pay gap reporting to shine a light on inequality at work. Without this, millions of disabled workers will be consigned to years of lower pay and in-work poverty.
“During the pandemic, many disabled people were able to work flexibly or from home for the first time. We must ensure this continues – flexible workplaces are accessible workplaces and give everyone better work life balance.
“Ministers must change the law so that all jobs are advertised with flexible options clearly stated, and all workers have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job.”
The TUC has written to the government to call for urgent action to address the disability pay gap.