Disabled workers earn, on average, £3,731 less than non-disabled workers every year, according to a new analysis by Trades Union Congress (TUC).
This equates to a sixth (17.2%) less than non-disabled workers, or £2.05 less an hour for those working a 35-hour week.
This pay gap has increased from 16.5% last year and means that disabled people effectively work for free for the last 54 days of the year.
The gap appears to grow for workers throughout their careers. At age 20, the gap stands at around 65p an hour, and increases to a peak of £3.55 an hour for disabled workers aged 40 to 44.
Women face a pay gap of around £7,000 a year
The size of the gap is significantly affected by gender, industry and region. Women face a substantially large pay gap of around a third (35%), equating to more than £7,000 a year.
The highest pay gaps are in the South East (22% or £2.78 an hour), and the West Midlands and the South West (both 17% or £2.20 an hour).
Across industries, the biggest gap was found to be in the financial and industrial services, where it stands at £5.90 an hour (39%), followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing (24%) and mining and quarrying and admin and support services (both 18%).
Disabled workers were also found to be twice as likely to be unemployed, highlighting just how often disabled people are excluded from the job market.
“Being disabled should not mean you’re on a lower wage”
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.
“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.”
Government must address the gap
The TUC are now urging the government to address the causes of this pay gap and make it compulsory for large employers to report on the gap and address disparities in pay.
The Union would also like to see the National Minimum Wage raised to £15 an hour, more funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a stronger legal framework for reasonable adjustments and a right to flexible working options for all employees.