Disabled people continue to face prejudice in the workplace, activists said after recent government figures showed they were paid an average of 12.2% less than people without disabilities, which equates to £ 1.48 an hour.
According to the National Statistics Office (ONS), the median wage for disabled workers in 2018 was £ 10.63 an hour, compared to £ 12.11 an hour for their non-disabled colleagues.
The disability pay gap was greatest among people with a mental disability – defined by the ONS as depression and anxiety, mental illness, nervous disorder, epilepsy or learning disability – who earned an average of £ 9.82 an hour.
People with a physical disability had a 9.7% pay gap (£ 10.90 an hour), while people with other disabilities – defined as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis – had a 7.4% (£ 11.18 an hour) had the narrowest gradient.
Average pay gap
The highest pay gap was in London, where disabled workers received 15.3% less than non-disabled workers, while the narrowest was in Scotland at 8.3%.
James Taylor, director of politics and public affairs for the Disability Equality Charity Scope, said, “The disability pay gap is a damned symptom of disabled people becoming disabled in the workplace.
“Many things pile up against disabled people to keep them from getting into employment, staying there, and making progress. Sometimes it is negative attitudes and assumptions, or a lack of adequate adjustment, that hold disabled people back. Sometimes it’s a simple lack of understanding or expertise from employers.
Although the pay gap has remained more or less unchanged since 2014, the ONS statistics show that the disability employment gap has narrowed slightly since 2013. In 2018, 50.9% of disabled people of working age were employed, compared with 80.7% of non-employed people with disabilities, a gap of 29.8 percentage points compared to 34.2 points in 2013.
The Conservative government pledged to cut the employment gap in half by helping an additional million disabled people at work in 2016, although the party’s 2019 election manifesto belittles this by merely pledging to “narrow” the employment gap for the disabled.
Jill Miller of the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development said, “Too many disabled people continue to face prejudice and difficulty finding employment or staying in work, and are less likely to move up into management positions or careers.
“Companies that are not inclusive and do not manage health and disability effectively risk missing out on hardworking and talented people and damaging their reputations with employees and customers. They could also take legal action if they violate the Gender Equality Act. “
The study found that almost one in five Britons between the ages of 16 and 64 had a disability in the past year. The proportion rose from 11.9% in the youngest age group to 31.4% in the 60 to 64 year olds.