Disability pay gap wider than in 2014

The disability pay gap has widened since 2014, new figures from the Office for National Statistics show, although there was a slight narrowing between 2019 and 2021.

In 2021 the gap between median pay for disabled employees and non-disabled employees, was 13.8%, where as in 2019 it was 14.1%. However, in 2014 disabled employees earned 11.7% less than non-disabled employees.

The ONS revealed that the disability pay gap has consistently been wider for disabled men than for disabled women; in 2021 median pay for disabled men was 12.4% less than non-disabled men, whereas median pay for disabled women was 10.5% less than non-disabled women.

There were marked regional variations within the UK, the ONS recorded. In 2021, for example, median pay for disabled employees living in Wales was 11.6% less than non-disabled employees, which was the narrowest of the four UK nations. Scotland had the widest disability pay gap at 18.5%.

The figures showed that disabled employees who were limited a lot in their day-to-day activities consistently had a wider pay gap to non-disabled employees without a long-lasting health condition (19.9% less in 2021) than disabled employees whose day-to-day activities were limited a little (12.1% in 2021).

Autism was the impairment with the widest pay gap in 2021. People with autism earned 33.5% less than non-disabled employees without a long-lasting health condition. However, this narrowed down to 9.9% when the figures were adjusted for personal and job characteristics, the “largest narrowing” as the ONS called it.

The report comes alongside a rise in economically inactive workers, who currently number 8.76 million – including many who are disabled.

Recruitment giant Reed.co.uk has released some of its own findings around the disability pay gap which further illuminate the issue. It found that two-thirds (66%) of disabled people said they researched a company’s gender pay gap before applying for a job, compared with 21% of people without a disability. This, said Reed, highlighted how important pay parity was to minority groups.

The study also found that 11% of respondents did not think any pay gaps, including gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexuality, existed at all in the UK.

For Simon Wingate, managing director of Reed.co.uk, the widening discrepancy between disabled and non-disabled workers was particularly troubling given the rising cost-of-living crisis.

He added: “It’s also concerning for employers facing challenges of their own in terms of recruitment amid widespread labour shortages. Tackling the disability pay gap will be crucial to widening the talent pool, as our own research highlights how important pay parity is to minority groups.” He said the fact that most disabled people researched companies’ gender pay gaps before applying showed “the attention and work that still needs to be implemented to ensure employers close their disability pay gap”.

Wingate urged companies to be more transparent when it came to pay and flexibility. He said: “A fundamental way to attract prospective disabled workers is by being clear in job adverts that the organisation is an inclusive employer who values diversity and is willing to make reasonable adjustments to support candidates through the recruitment process and beyond. It is also helpful to be fully transparent about pay, flexibility, and benefits on job adverts as this will help employers attract a more diverse range of applicants to their role, and ultimately their business.”

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