Have you been paid less or passed up for a promotion because you are disabled? Everyone has been talking about the gender pay gap but it is now time to look at the disability pay gap which is now at a 4 year high.

 In April 2017 employers with 250+ employees were forced to report their pay gap data by virtue of The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017.

Unsurprisingly the results were that 75% of employers who published their data reported that they paid male employees more than their female employees. More than 50% of those employers paid men higher bonuses in comparison to women, and 80% of those employers had more women employed in the lowest paid positions.

The government has published some guidance on the actions employers can take to close the gender pay gap, including the appointment of diversity managers and/or diversity task forces to tackle this issue.

Whilst it is good to see some positive action to address the gender pay gap, little is being said to address other employment inequalities such as the disability pay gap. The TUC’s Disability employment and pay gaps 2018 report revealed that there is a pay gap of 15% between disabled employees and non-disabled employees which is the highest recorded pay gap since 2013.

Presently there is no requirement for employers to report on the pay gap between disabled and non-disabled employees, however the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recently published a report entitled: “Research report 107: the disability pay gap”. The EHRC made the following key findings:

  • The overall disability pay gap is 13% for men and 7% for women;
  • The size of the pay gap varied depending on the nature of the disability with pay gaps for those with mental health conditions being particularly stark amongst men; and
  • Ethnic minority disabled people face the combined disadvantage of both ethnicity and disability.

The Law 

Disabled employees and workers are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010. It is prohibited to treat someone less favourably because they are disabled. Discrimination could take the form of not recruiting someone because of their disability; paying disabled employees less than you would pay non-disabled employees and/or denying disabled employees training and/or promotion opportunities.

What employers can do to address this issue?

Employers should ensure that they are aware of their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and bear in mind that they can be responsible for the actions of their employees who unlawfully discriminate against their colleagues – unless they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent their employees from committing an act of discrimination or from doing anything of that description.

Some potential next steps to take towards ensuring your workplace is inclusive and minimising the risks of discrimination include:

  • Ensure that you have robust equality and diversity policies and that your employees are aware of them, and their expected behaviour in line with these policies.
  • Train senior employees – particularly managers and supervisors to minimise the risk of discrimination and/or to ensure that they can respond appropriately where any complaints of discrimination are made.
  • Analyse business decisions which are neutral on the face of it but which may disadvantage disabled employees (or prospective employees) compared with their non-disabled colleagues e.g. standardised tests at interviews.
  • Finally, if complaints of discrimination or harassment are made – be prepared to investigate and take appropriate action.

Other actions which would involve greater collaboration with disabled employees:

  • Consulting with disabled employees to identify their specific needs and address the disability pay gap; and
  • Making sure that you implement reasonable adjustments for disabled employees e.g. time off work related to disability should not count towards an employee’s sickness record.

What to do if you think you have suffered discrimination?

If you believe you have been treated less favourably or are experiencing problems at work because of your disability, you may need to raise a formal grievance to address this. There are strict time limits within which to act in employment claims therefore you may benefit from some initial advice from our employment team to help you resolve any issues in your employment.

For expert advice do not hesitate to contact Michelle Landy

Telephone: 01245 258 892

Email: michelle.landy@hill-abbott.co.uk