A disabled people’s organisation has criticised the equality watchdog for failing to call for action to close the persistent gap between the pay earned by disabled people and their non-disabled colleagues.
In its major review of equality, How Fair is Britain?, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) includes a series of inequalities faced by disabled people around employment.
The review says disabled people in their early 20s are twice as likely not to be in employment, education or training as non-disabled people, and that the chances of low-qualified British disabled men having a job halved from 77 per cent to 38 per cent between the 1970s and the 2000s.
The review also says that in 2009 the pay gap – the difference in average [median] hourly pay between employees – between disabled women and non-disabled men was 22 per cent.
The review says pay gaps are a “persistent feature” of the experiences of disabled men and women.
And it says that disabled people are more than twice as likely to report bullying or harassment in the workplace as non-disabled people.
In one of the 15 “significant challenges” the EHRC lays out in its report, it calls for action to close the pay gaps faced by women, and by ethnic and religious minorities.
But even though it calls for action to close the “employment gap” for disabled people – their likelihood of being in work compared to non-disabled people – the EHRC does not call for action on the disability pay gap.
RADAR, the national campaigning disability network, which welcomed the review as a “call to action”, said it was “disappointed” that the commission had set a goal of reducing pay gaps on the grounds of gender, ethnicity and faith, but not for the large pay gap facing disabled people.
RADAR said disabled people were no longer settling for just “any job”, but had “aspirations for decent, sustainable careers like other citizens”.
An EHRC spokeswoman said that it was “inherent” in the call for action on the employment gap that closing it would also narrow the pay gap.
But she was unable to say why the EHRC had not made action on the disability pay gap explicit in its “significant challenges”, as it had for women and those from ethnic minorities and faith groups.
14 October 2010