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New TUC analysis reveals more than three million disabled workers earn less than £15 an hour 

Disabled workers also more likely to be on precarious zero-hours contracts or unemployed than non-disabled workers 

Union body says ministers have done “bare minimum” on minimum wage and calls for increase to £15 an hour   

More than three in four (77%) disabled workers in the East Midlands earn less than £15 an hour, according to new analysis of official statistics published by the TUC today (Wednesday). 

The analysis – published today during disability history month – reveals that 3.09 million disabled workers around the UK are paid under the median wage of around £15 an hour. 

Three in five (61%) non-disabled workers in the East Midlands are paid less than this amount. 

The TUC argues that disabled workers are over-represented in low-paid work – and says that the new increase in the minimum wage announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn statement doesn’t go anywhere near far enough in lifting workers out of poverty. 

Zero-hours contracts 

The analysis found that disabled workers are more likely than non-disabled workers to be employed on a zero-hours contract (4.4% compared to 2.9%) with no guarantee of shifts from one week to the next. 

The TUC says zero-hours contracts hand the employer total control over their workers’ hours and earning power. 

This means workers never know how much they will earn each week, and their income is subject to the whims of managers. 

The union body argues that this makes it hard for workers to plan their lives, look after their children and get to medical appointments. 

And it makes it harder for workers to challenge unacceptable behaviour by bosses because of concerns about whether they will be penalised by not being allocated hours in future. 


Not only are disabled workers paid less than non-disabled workers, they are also more likely to be excluded from the job market. 

Disabled workers are now twice as likely as non-disabled workers to be unemployed (6.8% compared to 3.4%).   

In November, the TUC published analysis showing that the pay gap between non-disabled and disabled workers has widened and is now 17.2%, or £3,700 a year. 

TUC Midlands Regional Secretary Lee Barron said: “We all deserve a decent job with decent pay. Being disabled should not mean you’re employed on a lower wage or on worse terms and conditions.   

“As the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, many disabled workers in the East Midlands are struggling to get by. 

“We already know disabled people face higher living expenses than non-disabled people. And now they're being pushed to the brink with eye-watering bills and are having to choose whether to put food on the table or pay their bills. 

“Ministers announced the absolute bare minimum on the national minimum wage and universal credit in the Autumn statement. With living costs soaring, we need to ensure that everyone has enough to get by. 

“Let’s put an end to low-pay Britain and get to a £15 per hour minimum wage as soon as possible. 

“And it’s also past 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.” 

Government action needed 

To address low pay, the TUC is calling for the minimum wage to be raised to £15 an hour as soon as possible. 

In August, the union body set out a roadmap to a £15 an hour minimum wage and a high wage economy. 

And to further support disabled workers, the TUC wants the government to bring in mandatory disability pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees. 

The union body says the legislation should be accompanied by a duty on employers to produce action plans identifying the steps they will take to address any gaps identified.  

Editors note

- Disabled workers earning less than £15 an hour (figures from LFS Q3 2021-Q2 2022)   



Total employees 



Earning less than £15ph 





- Disabled workers earning less than £15 an hour (figures from LFS Q3 2021-Q2 2022) by REGION 

Disability: equality act (GSS harmonised) 

Equality Act Disabled 

Not Equality Act Disabled 

North East 



North West 



Yorkshire and Humberside 



East Midlands 



West Midlands 



East of England 






South East 



South West 









Northern Ireland 



- ZHC data is taken from the Q2 2022 of the LFS.  
- Minimum wage: On 17 November the Chancellor announced that from 1 April 2023, the government will increase the National Living Wage (NLW) by 9.7% to £10.42 an hour, for those aged 23 and over:  
- Disability pay gap: Analysis published by the TUC found that non-disabled workers now earn a sixth (17.2%) more than disabled workers. The analysis found that the pay gap for disabled workers currently stands at £2.05 an hour – or £3,731 per year for someone working a 35-hour week:  
- £15 an hour minimum wage: In August the TUC set out a roadmap to a £15 an hour minimum wage and a high wage economy:  
The TUC report ‘Raising pay for everyone: A plan for a high wage economy and a £15 minimum wage’ is available here:   
- Higher cost of living: Research shows that disabled people face higher than average household costs than non-disabled people: and disabled adults are more likely than non-disabled adults to be struggling to pay their bills: 
- The median wage is £14.70 an hour. 
- TUC event: The analysis is published ahead of a TUC event on Monday (12 December) which focuses on disabled workers and the cost-of-living crisis. 
- Disability history month: For more information please visit: 
- About the TUC: 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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