Campaigning to end the disability pay gap

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2019 National Disabled Members' Conference
12 July 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference is concerned that while the disability pay gap is increasing at an alarming rate the government have still not implemented the mandatory monitoring and reporting called for by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in their report “Fair opportunities for all.”

Research for EHRC found that while the disability pay gap is the highest since records began the level varies depending on the disability. For example, the gap between a physically disabled woman and a non-disabled woman is 18% but for a man with learning difficulties the gap increases to 60%.

The report also found that while the reasons for the disability pay gap were complex the pay gap alone didn’t fully reflect the income difference between disabled and non-disabled people as disabled people are more likely to be part-time workers or unemployed and less likely to be paid the Living Wage.

Over 75% of employers say equality and diversity is a priority for their organisation but less than 3% measure the disability pay gap. And there are few consequences for an employer when a disabled person is disadvantaged in the recruitment process, overlooked for promotion or refused training,

Disabled people are also likely to have fewer educational qualifications. Nearly 20% of disabled people have no formal qualifications compared to just 6% of non-disabled people. Only 14% hold a degree level qualification compared to 28% of non-disabled people. Even if a disabled person overcomes the societal barriers to gain good qualifications they’re still paid less than equally qualified non-disabled people.

The disability pay gap is catastrophic for Disabled Members with the stark reality for many being a struggle to make ends meet, pay the bills and survive, let alone thrive.

Since the introduction of mandatory reporting there is a mandatory requirement for employers with over 250 staff to publish their gender pay gap. However there is a need for much stronger enforcement. There is also no requirement for employers to actually take any concrete steps to tackle the gender pay gap and the pay gap in public services has in fact marginally increased since reporting began in 2018. Nonetheless, when it comes to the disability pay gap there is not even a mandatory requirement that employers publish this data.

Conference notes that pay gaps are complex and disabled women and Black disabled people experience a double or even triple whammy. There is also a lack of data on how LGBT+ workers’ pay compares to non LGBT+ people. However a survey of 4,000 LGBT+ workers published by YouGov in June 2019 found that LGBT+ workers are paid £6,700 per annum less than their non-LGBT+ colleagues. Many LGBT+ workers conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity at work due to fears that it will impact on their promotion prospects and their pay.

Conference believes that we can only smash the pay gap for disabled workers if we take an intersectional approach that acknowledges the ways in which women and Black workers in particular are also discriminated against when it comes to pay. For many of our members their pay is impacted by layers of discrimination based on race, gender, disability and on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Conference calls upon the National Disabled Members Committee to work with the NEC to:

1)Campaign for the introduction of mandatory monitoring and reporting on the disability pay;

2)Produce guidance including a model action plan to reduce the disability pay gap that branches can to use in negotiations with employers;

3)Develop recruitment materials targeted at disabled workers highlighting the UNISON’s achievements and continuing work to reduce the disability pay gap.

4)Campaign for better enforcement of gender pay gap reporting, including considering whether non-compliant employers should face higher corporate tax bills, and for a statutory requirement for employers to publish robust action plans to tackle their pay gaps.

5) Take an intersectional approach to work on the pay gap, acknowledging the differential experience of disabled women and Black disabled workers, and work with the National LGBT+ Committee to support efforts to identify pay discrimination issues for disabled LGBT+ workers.