According to an analysis of official statistics by the TUC as part of Disability History Month, nearly three-quarters of disabled workers earn less than £15 an hour, compared to just over half of non-disabled workers.
In some parts of the country, the situation is even more acute with more than four in five disabled workers in the West Midlands and the North-East earning less than £15 an hour, compared to around three in five non-disabled workers in those regions.
In addition, the situation is worse in some industries than others. For instance, nine in 10 disabled workers in wholesale, retail, repair of vehicles and arts, entertainment and recreation are paid less than £15 an hour.
Not only are disabled workers paid less than non-disabled workers, they are more than twice as likely to be unemployed - 6.8 per cent compared to 3.4 per cent.
The analysis also found that disabled workers are more likely than non-disabled workers to be employed on a zero-hours contract (4.4 per cent compared to 2.9 per cent) with the result that they never know how much they are going to earn in any given week.
The union body argues that not only does this make it harder for workers to plan their lives, it also makes it harder for them to challenge unacceptable behaviour by bosses because of concerns that they might be offered fewer hours in the future as a result.
In November, the TUC published analysis showing that the pay gap between non-disabled and disabled workers had widened to 17.2 per cent or £3,700 a year (see LELR 797). To address the endemic issue of low pay, the TUC is, therefore, calling for the minimum wage to be raised to £15 an hour as soon as possible.
To further support disabled workers, the union body wants the government to bring in mandatory disability pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees. It argues that this legislation should be accompanied by a duty on employers to produce action plans identifying the steps they intend to take to address any gaps that they identify.
To read the analysis in full, click here.