Despite the impact of the pandemic on working practices, new research shows that the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people still remains high.

New research conducted by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) shows that the disability employment gap has not narrowed in light of the pandemic, remaining at 28.7 percentage points.

As such, disabled workers are almost twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled workers and also more likely to be employed on a zero-hours contract.

Employment rates among disabled Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people were shown to be particularly low at just 48 per cent.

However, during this period, the disability pay gap has narrowed from 20 per cent down to 16.5 per cent.

Despite this, the median hourly pay for disabled employees is still  £1.90 lower than it is for non-disabled employees.

Again, this pay gap was exacerbated for disabled women who earned a median hourly pay of £11.10, compared to £14.60 for non-disabled men.

Workers with disabilities were twice as likely to be concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months with over a fifth feeling this way (22 per cent). Only 11 per cent of non-disabled staff shared this fear.

In light of this, the TUC has made various recommendations to support employees with disabilities:

  • Mandatory disability pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees. This, the TUC, says should be accompanied by a duty on employers to produce targeted action plans identifying the steps they will take to address any gaps identified.
  • Enforcement of reasonable adjustments – The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should get specific ringfenced funding to effectively enforce disabled workers’ right to reasonable adjustments, the body has argued.
  • A stronger legal framework for adjustments: According to the TUC, the EHRC must update their statutory code of practice to include more examples of reasonable adjustments, to help disabled workers get the adjustments they need quickly and effectively.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Disabled workers have been hit hardest by Covid-19. Many have been pushed into financial hardship and left without a safety net.

As we saw with the last financial crisis disabled people are all too often first in line for redundancy, and those who keep hold of their jobs face a yawning pay gap.

Disabled people deserve much better. We need mandatory disability pay gap reporting to shine a light on poor workplace practices that fuel inequality at work.

Without this, millions of disabled workers will be consigned to years of lower pay and in-work poverty.

*The TUC conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,134 workers carried by BritainThinks, on behalf of the TUC, between 13-21 May 2021.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.