Issue date
03 Dec 2018
  • Disability pay gap hits 15.2%
  • Disabled people earn nearly £3k a year less on average than non-disabled workers
  • New voluntary code “won’t cut it”, says TUC

The TUC is today (Monday) calling on the government to make it compulsory for employers to publish their disability pay gaps.

The call comes as new TUC analysis shows that the average pay gap for disabled workers has hit 15.2% – the equivalent of £2,821 a year.

However, for people with mental illnesses (29.8%) and depression (26.3%) the pay gulf is even worse.

Last week ministers published a voluntary code to encourage employers to disclose the number of disabled people they employ, their career progression and pay.

But the TUC says that without a legally binding requirement on companies to publish their pay gaps (and set out what action they are taking to address them), progress will be too slow.

Disability employment gap

The TUC says far more needs to be done to remove the barriers facing disabled people in the workplace.

Just half (50.5%) of working-age disabled people in the UK currently have a job, compared to four-fifths (81.1%) of non-disabled people.

For some disabled people the problem is even worse. Only 3 in 10 (30.4%) people with a mental health disability are in work.

The TUC is calling on the government to introduce a statutory requirement for employers to report on their disability pay gaps and employment rates, and to publish action plans setting out how they will address them.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Disabled people face the double whammy of poorer job prospects and lower pay. Paying lip service is not going to fix the problem.

“Employers must be legally required to publish their disability employment and pay gaps. A light-touch, voluntary approach simply won't cut it.

"Large companies have to report their gender pay gaps. Disabled people deserve the same level of transparency.

“My advice to disabled workers worried about their career and pay is to join a union. Union reps have experience negotiating with employers to get the support disabled workers need.”

Editors note

Disability pay gap by ONS category (4 quarter average)

Category of disability

Average hourly pay gap (£)

Pay gap (%)

Arms, hands

-1.70

16.9

Legs or feet

-1.55

15.2

Back or neck

-0.65

5.8

Difficulty in seeing

-0.30

2.6

Difficulty in hearing

-0.75

6.8

Skin conditions, allergies

-1.13

10.5

Chest, breathing problems

-1.80

18.0

Heart, blood, pressure, circulation

-1.20

11.3

Stomach, liver, kidney, digestion

-0.93

8.5

Diabetes

-1.95

19.8

Depression, bad nerves

-2.45

26.3

Epilepsy

-1.50

14.6

Learning difficulties*

-4.63

64.9

Mental illness, phobia, panics

-2.70

29.8

Progressive illness

-1.33

12.7

Other problems, disabilities

-0.75

6.8

Average

-1.55

15.2

Source: ONS Labour Force Survey

- The 4 quarter average is calculated between July – Sept 2017 to April – June 2018

- The pay gap is smaller for some disabled workers, but the TUC says in many cases this is likely the result of lower employment rates. It is also important to note that many people report having multiple disabilities.

- *The hourly figure for people with learning difficulties should be treated with caution as the sample size of disabled people with learning difficulties was below the Labour Force Survey’s publication threshold in three of the four quarters over the period. In Q3 2017, the quarter in which the sample size was above the threshold, the pay gap was £4.00.

- The government's voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing framework is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/voluntary-reporting-on-disability-mental-health-and-wellbeing/voluntary-reporting-on-disability-mental-health-and-wellbeing-a-framework-to-support-employers-to-voluntarily-report-on-disability-mental-health-an
- For more information about the UN Day for Disabled Persons please visit: www.un.org/en/events/disabilitiesday/
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.