Disability, Health and Wellbeing
The 16th of November marks the start of Disability History Month. This month-long event, running to the 16th of December, is an opportunity to focus on history of disabled people and the struggles for equality and human rights. It's also an opportunity for us as Trade Unions to recommit to securing the rights of disabled people across our society.
This year's theme is Disability, Health and Wellbeing and takes place against a backdrop of increasing structural discrimination against disabled people. Disabled people have been one of the hardest hit groups of people by some of the most difficult crises we've faced in recent times: disabled people were first in line for redundancies during the financial crisis, they were hardest hit by austerity, six in 10 Covid-19 deaths were disabled people and now disabled people are facing a cost-of-living crisis with lower pay and higher outgoings than non-disabled people.
Recent TUC analysis shows the disability pay gap has increased. The pay gap between non-disabled and disabled employees is now 17.2%, or £3,731 a year, and research shows that disabled people’s outgoings are likely to be higher than non-disabled people. It’s not surprising that the ONS has found that disabled people are more likely to be struggling to pay their bills.
Disabled people have been one of the hardest hit groups of people by some of the most difficult crises we've faced in recent times: during the financial crisis, the pandemic and now the cost-of-living emergency. We need change now.
Here are four resources that can help us ensure equality for disabled people:
- Get to grips with the social model of disability. The social model states that the exclusion and discrimination faced by disabled people are not inevitable and that they are caused, not by the person’s impairment, but by barriers in society. There are multiple barriers in workplaces that union members can change – they might be physical, attitudinal, or related to communication – use this guide to identify and remove barriers in your own workplace.
- Brush up on the law. Disabled people have protections under the law to prevent discrimination in the workplace – we've prepared an interactive guide for members to help them understand the expectations on employers under the law.
- Improve access to reasonable adjustments. Disabled people leave the workplace for many reasons – one is when employers fail in their legal duties to provide reasonable adjustments. The TUC have prepared a guide with GMB to help prevent this.
- Win flex for all. Disabled people often request changes to their working location or hours as a reasonable adjustment - making flexible working available to everyone will make it easier for disabled people to access these changes and remove the stigma that disabled people face when they have different working arrangements. The TUC have prepared a guide for reps on improving flexibility in the workplace.
There are two TUC events taking place during Disability History Month which we think members may find of interest:
- 29th November (7pm) - Disabled workers & the cost of the cost-of-living crisis
- 15th December (2pm) - Disability discrimination webinar for reps.
You'll find details of both webinars on our events page.Sign up for events
Disability Pay Gap reporting
Last week the TUC published its latest update on the pay gap for disabled workers and called on the Government to bring in mandatory disability pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees.
The legislation should be accompanied by a duty on employers to produce targeted action plans identifying the steps they will take to address any gaps identified. And we’re calling for the same for gender, ethnicity and LGBT+ identities because we cannot end inequalities in pay for one group without ending them for all.
We also need to address the underlying causes of the pay gap. Disabled workers are more likely to be in part time work, in lower paid jobs and in insecure work. The pay gap is also linked to unlawful discrimination, a lack of access to flexible working, and employers failing to provide reasonable adjustments.
That’s why the demands include:
- The National Minimum Wage to be raised to £15 an hour as soon as possible and a real pay rise for public sector workers.
- A ban on zero-hours contracts by giving workers a right to a contract which reflects their normal hours of work.
- A day one right to flexible working for all workers and a duty on employers to advertise possible flexible working options in job adverts.
- A stronger legal framework for reasonable adjustments and for United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) enforceable within UK law.
- An end to attacks on the right to strike so Disabled workers and all workers can defend and improve their pay and conditions.
About the ED&I Group
The Accord Equality Diversity & Inclusion group’s aim is to ensure every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to maximise their potential, regardless of background, and to be treated with dignity and respect. It’s a place where diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are welcomed and cherished without prejudice or judgement. It’s also a chance to collectively learn from our experiences, allowing us to remove barriers and enrich each other’s lives.
The group has a calendar of activities we'll be getting involved in across the year on a broad spectrum of topics. If you’re interested, why not get involved — email us at [email protected] or register to join online.