Nearly one in three (30 per cent) disabled workers say that they’ve been treated unfairly at work during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new poll published by the TUC today (Saturday).
The survey – carried out by YouGov for the TUC – reveals that many disabled people report that they experienced significant barriers in the workplace before the pandemic, and that Covid-19 has made things worse for them.
Structural discrimination in the labour market
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, disabled workers were hugely underrepresented and underpaid in the labour market. The employment gap between disabled and non-disabled workers was 28 per cent. And disabled workers are paid 20 per cent less than non-disabled peers.
Covid-19 risks undoing recent improvements in getting disabled people into work, and pushing disabled people back out of the labour market. Recent government figures show that redundancy rates are now 62 per cent higher for disabled workers
Unfair treatment by employers
Disabled workers told the TUC that their disability or shielding status meant they were treated unfairly, and worse than other colleagues during the pandemic. For example:
The poll also uncovered:
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Before the pandemic, disabled workers were already up against huge barriers getting into and staying in work. Covid-19 has made it even worse.
“Employers are failing disabled workers. Many disabled and shielding workers felt unsafe at work during the pandemic. And too many disabled workers told us their boss is breaking the law by not giving them the adjustments they need.
“We saw with the last financial crisis that disabled people are all too often first in line for redundancy. As we recover from the pandemic, we can’t afford to reverse the vital progress that disabled people have made – in the workplace and in wider society.
“Ministers must act. We need proper enforcement of disabled workers’ rights to reasonable adjustments and safety at work, and a duty on employers to report and close the pay gap between disabled and non-disabled workers.”
In the Queen’s Speech the government promised to release a National Strategy for Disabled People. This must include:
Notes to editors:
- The report is available at https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-06/Outline%20Report%20-%20Covid-19%20and%20Disabled%20Workers.pdf.
- YouGov conducted an online survey of 2,003 disabled workers or workers who have a health condition or impairment and who were in work at the start of the pandemic in February 2021. For more information please visit: https://yougov.co.uk/
- Reasonable adjustments: All employers have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to proactively make reasonable adjustments to remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantages that disabled workers face. The law recognises that to secure equality for disabled people work may need to be structured differently, support given, and barriers removed. Many adjustments are low-cost or free.
- Redundancy rates: ONS figures published in February 2021 showed that redundancy rates are 62% higher for disabled workers: www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-disabled-workers-suffering-big-hit-jobs-and-pay…
- Unemployment gap and Pay Gap: TUC research in October 2020 found disabled workers earned 20% less than non-disabled workers (the disability pay gap). The analysis found that the pay gap for disabled workers has widened to £3,800 per year – an increase of £800 over the 2018 pay gap for someone working a 35-hour week. And the analysis found that the unemployment gap was 28 percentage points: www.tuc.org.uk/news/disabled-workers-earning-fifth-less-non-disabled-peers-tuc-analysis-reveals
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
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