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Disability Pay Gap

Sam talks about The Disability Pay Gap


Are we living in a progressive society?

A society in which individuals living with a disability do not feel inferior?

Are employers hiring the best talent for their vacancies and paying them accordingly and with parity?

A recent report by the TUC suggests not, stating that workers who are living with disability earn 17.2% less than employees who do not have a disability.

Quite frankly, in this day and age, when I hear that there are so many highly driven and highly skilled individuals who are not being paid their true worth, I find this disappointing and it makes me wonder whether there is another explanation for this – for example are disabled people working in sectors that tend to pay less anyway? However the report tends to suggest that the highest pay gap is in sectors that tend to be well paid (i.e. financial and industrial). Other research suggests that disabled people are more likely to be working in freelance or unsustainable working environments. Working freelance can have its upsides, but it can be very challenging to value yourself enough to demand a salary comparative to others in the industry. What’s more, is that many disabled people can be afraid to leave a job in which they are not being paid fairly as securing another can be more challenging for them than a non-disabled worker.

Recently one of my contacts with a disability wrote about her experience of feeling like a “strain on the system.” It really did strike a chord with me as well. How can a disabled person be blamed for needing support? It is good employment practice to provide support and flexibility for all employees, regardless of whether or not they have a disability and employers need to continue to ask themselves what more they can do to be the best employer they can possibly be if they want to attract and retain the best employees for their business.

According to the research a worker with a disability is paid £3,731 less than their non-disabled counterparts (with women with disabilities paid a staggering £7,144 less than their non-disabled male colleagues). I am sure we will all draw our own comparisons (for me this equates to 12 Nintendo Switch consoles) but as the report suggests, this means that workers with disabilities effectively stop being paid on 7th November and will work the rest of the year for no pay.

Exclusion from the job market continues to be a huge issue faced by disabled people. Industries such as financial and industrial services, agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and quarrying and admin and support services continue to be industries which discriminate in terms of pay. Surely they are the losers in this because they are missing a huge talent pool as these are the industries with potential jobs in which someone with a disability could be just as competent but may not currently being paid as though they are. I’d love someone to try and tell me this is justified.

I agree with the general secretary of TUC in asking for mandatory reporting of the disability pay gap so that this can be highlighted and addressed. As a young job seeker with a disability I want (and I believe many of my peers want) the opportunity to work in a sector that suits the strengths I have and be paid fairly for my level of skill and experience. Many employers are already realising what an asset employees with disabilities are and recognise (both through word and action) the unique array of skills they bring that can hugely raise the profile of an organisation. It also sends a really important message to the whole of their workforce about the supportive and flexible working culture they want to embrace and this is the big takeaway from this – people will want to work for that organisation and, if they are fortunate enough to be able to do, they will want to stay.

So to all employers out there – it’s over to you.

As yourself, how can you attract more people with disabilities who have the skills and talent you need in your workforce to come and work for you?

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