Revealed: Britain's pay gap for disabled workers

Offices are seen at dusk as St. Paul's Cathedral and construction cranes are seen on the skyline in the City of London, Britain November 2, 2015. According to the Office for National Statistics, disabled workers in London faced the biggest disability pay gap, earning 15.3%, less than their colleagues. REUTERS/Toby Melville
St Paul's Cathedral and building cranes silhouette the City of London skyline at dusk. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Disabled workers in the UK earn 12.2% less than their colleagues, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published on Monday.

The ONS report is the first analyses of disability pay gaps based on newly reweighted data from the annual population survey. It uses the Government Statistical Service (GSS) definition of disability, meaning 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.

According to the GSS definition, 18.9% of people in the UK aged 16 to 64-years were disabled in 2018 based on ONS data. Women were more likely to be disabled than men, at 21.1% and 16.6%, respectively.

The ONS found that the median pay for non-disabled workers was £12.11 an hour, against £10.63 for disabled in 2018, and the disability pay gap was most pronounced for workers in their 30s and 40s.

There was a notable regional disparity in the disability pay gap, with Scotland having the smallest gap at 8.3%, and London having the largest at 15.3%.

Responding to the report, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s Jill Miller 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.

“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."

James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at disability equality charity Scope, said: “The disability pay gap is a damning symptom of disabled people being hindered in the world of work. Plenty of things stack up against disabled people to prevent them from getting into, staying in and progressing in employment.

“Sometimes it’s negative attitudes and assumptions, or a lack of reasonable adjustments that hold disabled people back. Sometimes it’s a simple lack of understanding or know how from employers.”