Pay focus – what about the disability pay gap?

 You have probably heard of the gender pay gap and the requirement that employers with over 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap data annually. You may also be aware of the pay gap for Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) employees in light of data published last year (December 2018) which outlined that BAME workers are losing out on 3.2 billion a year in wages compared to white colleagues doing the same work. There are now calls to make ethnicity pay reporting mandatory for larger companies. This begs the question as to whether pay reporting should be extended to other protected characteristics such as disability.

The disability pay gap

A recent report produced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) entitled Disability pay gaps in the UK: 2018, found that in 2018, disabled employees were paid 12.2% less than their non-disabled peers. The biggest disparity geographically was in London which had the widest disability pay gap at 15.3% (the narrowest being in Scotland at 8.3%). The report also outlines that employees with mental disabilities had the biggest gap at 18.6% compared to those with physical disabilities where the gap was at 9.7%. Employees with other progressive disabilities (such as HIV and cancer) suffered the smallest pay gap at 7.4%. When focusing on gender, the report found that on average women were consistently paid less than men, but that the disability pay gap was narrower for females than it was for males, with females being paid 10.1% less than non-disabled females and disabled males being paid 11.6% less than non-disabled males. The report concluded that whilst a quarter of the difference in mean pay could be accounted for by factors such as occupation and qualification, the remaining three quarters of the pay gap is entirely unexplained!

The report highlights that disabled employees are suffering disadvantage in the workplace despite holding the correct relevant qualifications and skills. The Conservative and Labour parties both outlined pledges to tackle the disability pay gap in their manifestos, so it will be interesting to see what the newly elected Conservative government does about it. The issue is certainly something to watch in the future. For a general overview of the employment reforms detailed in the Conservative Government’s manifesto, see our article here.

For more information about the law on equal pay, pay reporting or disability discrimination, please contact our employment team.

Claire Knowles - Partner

Mark Alaszewski - Associate

Rebecca Mahon - Solicitor

Amelia Wheatstone - Solicitor 

Adam McGlynn - Trainee Solicitor