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Can flexible working help close the disability pay gap?

The disclosure of gender pay gap data this April provided a much needed and refreshing perspective on how gender affects our work culture and the UK economy.

Further work has been carried out to also show the impact of race and class on the pay gap; and in all of these discussions, experts and government commissions alike have agreed that flexible working could be a key component in closing the pay gap.

No equivalent suggestions have been made for workers with disabilities. An EHRC report from 2017 reported a 13.6% pay gap between non-disabled and disabled employees. The report also indicated that people with disabilities were overwhelmingly more likely to be unemployed, to lose their job and to be in low wage positions. Interestingly, the report found that ethnicity discrimination and disability work together to trump gender imbalance. For example, it reported that Bangladeshi men with disabilities were affected by a staggering 56% pay gap.

Our own website has broached the subject through Julia Seymour’s experience. Before joining Young Enterprise Scotland, Julia thought she would be out of the workforce for the rest of her life, simply because her previous employers simply would not allow her any flexibility.

As the report itself suggested back in 2017, increasing existing flexible working arrangements could decrease some of the barriers disable workers face. Even more importantly, flexible recruitment could be the definitive tool to close the disability pay gap. Currently, only one out of eight quality jobs in Scotland are advertised as flexible. If that number increased, it would open the talent pool significantly, allowing a wider range of candidates into the UK work force- with positive effects in the wider economy, and on our society as a whole.

Read more on the disability pay gap here, and more on flexible recruitment here.

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