Disabled workers now earn a sixth (17.2%) less than non-disabled workers, with the pay gap currently standing at £3,731 per year for someone working a 35-hour week.
This pay gap means that disabled people effectively work for free for the last 54 days of the year and stop getting paid this Monday, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Disabled women face the biggest pay gap. Non-disabled men are paid on average 35% more than disabled women — equivalent to £3.93 an hour, or £7,144 a year.
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The research also shows that the disability pay gap persists for workers throughout their careers. It starts at age 20 at 65p an hour and increases steadily with age to a peak of £3.55 an hour, or £6,461 a year, for disabled workers aged 40 to 44.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everybody deserves a fair chance to get a job with decent pay. Being disabled should not mean you’re on a lower wage — or that you’re excluded from the jobs market altogether.
“It’s 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.
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%).
The research found that disability pay gaps also vary by industry. The biggest pay gap is in financial and industrial services, where the pay gap stands at 39% or £5.90 an hour, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing (24%) and mining and quarrying and admin and support services (both 18%).
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O’Grady added: “During the pandemic, many disabled people were able to work flexibly or from home for the first time. We must ensure this continues — flexible workplaces are accessible workplaces and give everyone better work life balance.
“Ministers must change the law so that all jobs are advertised with flexible options clearly stated, and all workers have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job.”
The union body has written to women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch urging for mandatory disability pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees.
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