ONS data shows 12% pay gap for disabled employees

Out-Law News | 10 Dec 2019 | 11:11 am | 2 min. read

Data released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed a 12.2% pay gap between disabled and non-disabled workers.

The ONS carried out an analysis of newly reweighted earnings data from the Annual Population Survey, with the data showing that median pay for non-disabled employees was consistently higher than for disabled employees.

In 2018, median pay for non-disabled workers was £12.11 an hour, but it dropped to £10.63 an hour for disabled employees. That meant that for every £1 that a non-disabled employee earned in 2018, on average a disabled employee earned 88 pence.

Employment law expert Helen Corden of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the data would be used to further the calls to gather information on pay for disabled employees in the same way as data is now collected on pay for men and women.

“Campaigners and trade unions will use these figures as further evidence of the need to introduce disability pay gap reporting. They have been pressing for this for some and consider that a regime along the same lines as gender pay gap reporting should be put in place. This is especially the case given that voluntary reporting regimes have been shown to be ineffective and the disability pay gap has hardly moved in the past five years,” Corden said.

The ONS found that disability employment and pay gaps were wider for men than women. While 51.7% of disabled men aged 16 to 64 were in employment, compared to 50.4% of disabled women of the same age, more non-disabled men are in employment than non-disabled women.

Disabled men are paid on average 11.6% less than non-disabled men, while disabled women are paid on average 10.1% less than non-disabled women. However, the average pay for disabled male employees is higher than the average pay for non-disabled female employees, at £11.67 per hour compared to £11.05 per hour.

Employees with a mental impairment were paid on average 18.6% less than non-disabled employees, while those with physical impairments received on average 9.7% less than non-disabled workers.

The ONS also found regional discrepancies. It said in 2018 London had the widest disability pay gap at 15.3%, while Scotland had the narrowest pay gap at 8.3%. However the disability pay gap showed regional volatility, with Scotland’s pay gap in 2017 sitting at 13.3%.

Northern Ireland has consistently had one of the narrowest disability pay gaps, although it has widened since 2014. In that year disabled employees in Northern Ireland were paid 5.7% less than non-disabled employees; by 2018 the gap had widened to 8.7%.

Under gender pay gap reporting regulations which came into force in April 2017, public, private and voluntary sector organisations with more than 250 employees are required to report gender pay gap data by 4 April each year.

Groups including the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industry Strategy Committee have called for the regulations to be extended to encompass disability and ethnicity but no amendments to the law have yet been made.

Earlier this year the ONS published the first official statistics on the pay gap between different ethnic groups in England, Scotland and Wales, with the data showing significant disparities between ethnicities.