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Pay gap between disabled and non-disabled workers widens to £3,700 a year

Pay gap: The broken left leg of Britain's Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall is seen as she is pushed in a wheel-chair as she leaves after signing the book of condolence for the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, at the Polish Social and Cultural Association, in London, Thursday, April 22, 2010.  The Polish President, his wife and some of the country's most prominent leaders died April 10, when the presidential plane crashed as it came in to land at Smolensk airport, in western Russia.  Camilla is temporarily in a wheel-chair after breaking her leg whilst hiking in Scotland on April 7. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham-Pool)
Pay gap: Disabled women face even bigger pay penalty of 35%, over £7,000 a year. Photo: Matt Dunham/PA

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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