At a TUC disabled workers conference, the union body urged the Government to take steps to ensure that disabled workers are not unlawfully targeted for redundancy.
Citing ONS data, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) stated that the Government needed to do more to protect the rights of workers with disabilities, preventing them from being unlawfully made redundant.
It stated that, during the pandemic, redundancy rates have been almost two-thirds (62 per cent) higher for disabled workers than their non-disabled colleagues.
It also reflected on the recession which occurred as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. During this time, the TUC warned, disabled employees were more likely than their non-disabled colleagues to experience negative changes to their terms and conditions and working practices, such as wage freezes, reduced overtime, and the re-organisation of work.
Quoting their own research, the TUC found that workers with disabilities were also prone to being underpaid in comparison to their counterparts – earning up to a fifth (20 per cent) less.
Bias against disabled workers was also highlighted during the conference. Recent research found that two-fifths of employers say that they were discouraged from hiring disabled job applicants because of concerns around supporting them properly during the pandemic while a fifth (20 per cent) admitted they would be less likely overall to hire someone with a disability.
Another significant problem for this group included a lack of support through reasonable adjustments from their employer. Data from a Unison survey showed that half of disabled workers said they faced barriers to doing their job that could be removed through adjustments. However, over two-thirds had some or all of these adjustments refused whilst almost a quarter (23 per cent) had to wait a year or more to receive the adjustments they needed.
In light of this, the TUC called on the Government to ban zero-hours contracts, to tackle false self-employment, and to guarantee all workers day-one employment rights.
In addition, the body also called for mandatory disability pay gap reporting in order to close the growing gap in salary between workers who are disabled and those who are not.
The TUC emphasised that employers who fail to make reasonable adjustments for workers with disabilities, including adjustments to redundancy criteria and procedures, are carrying out a form of unlawful discrimination.
To properly address this problem, the body stated employers should review reasonable adjustments with their workers in order to ensure workplace barriers continue to be removed.