17 November 2022
7 November marked the day from which disabled people effectively work for free, according to analysis from the Trade Union Congress (TUC). The pay gap has now reached 17.2% - an increase from 16.5% in 2021. To put this into context, this means that disabled workers earn on average £2.05 less than their non-disabled counterparts, or £3,731 over the year for those working 35 hours p/week.
Even entering the labour market was found to be more challenging for disabled employees, despite the Equality Act 2010 placing a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments. Disabled workers were found to be twice as likely to be unemployed when compared to non-disabled workers (6.8% v 3.4%). Once they have managed to enter the workforce, the pay gap starts early, at 65p p/hour at the age of 20, eventually peaking around 40 – 44 years old, at £3.55 p/hour, or £6,461 p/year.
Mandatory pay gap reporting
Currently, employers over a certain size are legally required to report on the gender pay gap within their business and are encouraged to provide an accompanying narrative explaining this and identifying action points to reduce it. The disability pay gap however, is excluded from this requirement, and the government have so far rejected any suggestions for this to change.
TUC urges the government to take action
The TUC have written to the Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch asking for the disability pay gap to be addressed urgently and bring in mandatory reporting requirements for employers with over 50 employees (much less than the current reporting threshold for gender pay gap reporting). They have also said that employers should be under a duty to produce action plans that identify the steps to be taken to address any gaps that the report identifies.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the TUC, has been quoted as saying: “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.”
Reforms to mandatory reporting
Despite these calls, the likelihood of disability pay gap reporting becoming mandatory are even slimmer following the announcement of lifting the regulatory burden on small businesses, during Liz Truss’ time as Prime Minister. You may recall the reporting threshold for mandatory reporting is to be lifted from the current 250 employees to 500 employees.
Regardless of whether reporting is required by the law, undertaking an analysis of pay within an organisation is certainly a worthwhile exercise, to identify if there are any ‘gaps’ in pay, so that these can be examined, and plans put in place to fix why it has happened in the first place.