Mind the Pay Gap!

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
7 July 2023

In 2022 Conference passed four motions that mentioned a pay gap, recognising that any pay gap affecting any protected characteristic is unacceptable, and change is needed. Conference recognises that the current cost of living crisis has made the issue even more pressing.

Conference accepts that since gender pay gap reporting was required for organisations with more than 250 employees there has been an improvement – from 18.4% in 2017 down to 14.9% in 2022. It is becoming clear that until organisations are held to account, they will not take responsibility, and they will not take action.

Compare the movement on pay gaps across multiple equality strands:

a)Disability pay gap – was 12.7% in 2017, but had increased to 17.2% by 2022, meaning disabled people get paid on average £2.05 per hour or £3,700 per year less than non-disabled people.

b)Ethnicity pay gap – was 4.2% in 2017, and had reduced to 2.3% in 2019, but this masks significant disparities with the London ethnicity pay gap standing at 23.8%, and this is likely to be reflected in other areas of the UK. It is also shameful that no more recent statistics are available.

c)LGBT+ pay gap – there is very little official data but we know from a YouGov survey in 2019 that lesbian, gay, bi, and trans workers responding reported being paid an average £6,700 per year less than non-LGBT+ colleagues, a 16% pay gap. UNISON’s experience is that trans workers are likely to be particularly impacted.

The fact is that organisations rarely collect all the data to enable them to assess the pay gap related to disability, LGBT+, and ethnicity. Workers are often reluctant to declare protected characteristics due to stigma, and the perceived disadvantageous effect on promotion or workplace development. This particularly affects disabled workers, and especially LGBT+ workers who may not be ‘out’ at work. Even where organisations assure workers of confidentiality to encourage self-declaration, workers are unenthusiastic. In many sectors workers have no confidence that their employer will handle that data with appropriate security and regard, and may misuse it.

Conference believes that the first step to addressing the remaining pay gaps is to introduce mandatory reporting for all organisations with more than 250 workers. Conference further recognises that without the relevant diversity data, such reporting will be incomplete, and will not be robust.

Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1)Develop workplace guidance on confidential reporting of disability and related equality data, and how to protect workers’ data rights

2)Encourage regions and branches to work with their employers to negotiate to protect workers’ data rights in the workplace, and to collect equality data

3)Raise the disability, LGBT+, and ethnicity pay gaps with regions, branches and service groups so that the drivers of pay gaps can be included in local and national bargaining agendas with employers

4)Work with signatories to the Disability Employment Charter and the TUC to campaign for all employees with over 250 employees to publish annually:

i)The number of disabled, LGBT+, and Black workers they employ as a proportion of their workforces

ii)The percentage of disabled, LGBT+, and Black workers they employ at each level of the organisation

iii)The disabled, LGBT+, and Black workers pay gap in the organisation.