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The Disability Pay Gap

December 3, 2019

Disabled employees are paid 12.2% less than their non-disabled peers, according to official data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that in 2018 the median pay for non-disabled workers was £12.11 an hour, against £10.63 for disabled.

London had the widest disability pay gap at 15.3%, with the narrowest in Scotland, at 8.3%.

The gap was the widest for those in their 30s and 40s, the ONS said in its report.

The data underlines the struggle facing many disabled workers, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said.

“Too many disabled people continue to face prejudice and struggle to get into employment or to remain in work, and are less likely to progress to senior management roles or to work in professional occupations,” said the CIPD’s Dr Jill Miller.

“Businesses that aren’t inclusive – and don’t manage health and disability effectively – risk missing out on hard-working and talented individuals, and damaging their reputation among staff and customers.”

Angela Matthews, head of policy and research at Business Disability Forum, added: “Disabled workers are not ‘one group’. Some people with disabilities do not experience many barriers in work, and others experience many, multiple barriers.

“But we know that unjustified attitudes about what various groups of disabled people can and can’t do are still widespread, and affect many employment related issues, including equal pay, bonus pay, and pay increases,” Ms Matthews said.

The ONS report is the first analysis of disability pay gaps in the UK using newly reweighted earnings data from the Annual Population Survey.

To define disability, the ONS uses the Government Statistical Service (GSS) definition. This identifies “disabled” as a person who has a physical or mental health condition, or illness that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more, that reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

The ONS said disabled females were in general paid 10.1% less than non-disabled females in 2018 – narrower than the pay gap between disabled and non-disabled male employees who had a gap of 11.6%.

However, employment rates for disabled men and women were similar at 51.7% and 50.4%.

The ONS also found that those disabled employees with mental impairments had the biggest pay gap at 18.6%, while the gap was 9.7% for the physically impaired.

Much of the difference in pay can be put down to factors such as what employees do and how qualified they are, the agency said.

Using the GSS definition of disability, the ONS said 18.9% of people in the UK aged 16 to 64 years were disabled in 2018. Women were more likely to be disabled than men, at 21.1% and 16.6%, respectively.

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