New research conducted by the Work Foundation at Lancaster University has unveiled a distressing reality for disabled workers in the UK. The study reveals that a staggering 1.3 million disabled individuals are currently trapped in severely insecure employment, with 430,000 expressing a desire for more working hours. These numbers highlight the urgent need for action to address the disparity between disabled and non-disabled workers in terms of job security and opportunities.
This article delves into the key findings of the report and emphasizes the crucial changes required to alleviate the challenges faced by disabled workers.
Understanding Insecurity in Disabled Workers’ Employment:
The research indicates that disabled workers are 1.5 times more likely than their non-disabled counterparts to experience severe job insecurity. They are often subjected to “involuntary temporary work,” where they would prefer stable, permanent contracts.
Insecure work is characterized by unpredictable pay, irregular hours, lack of employment rights and protections, and uncertainty about future work prospects.
Statistics reveal that disabled workers face several barriers, such as limited access to well-paid employment and higher representation in part-time positions. While some disabled individuals opt for shorter working hours to manage health conditions or caregiving responsibilities, a noteworthy 10% of disabled workers express a desire for increased working hours, compared to 7% of non-disabled workers.
Impacts on Disabled Workers and the Economy:
Remaining in severely insecure work can have detrimental effects on disabled workers’ well-being and may even drive some to exit the labor market entirely. Moreover, disabled workers are disadvantaged in terms of job stability, with lower rates of long-term employment with a single employer.
This circumstance denies them essential rights and protections, including access to redundancy pay. Additionally, disabled individuals are more likely to be self-employed due to the challenges they face in securing traditional employment, resulting in reduced access to contractual employment benefits.
Disparities Among Disabled Workers:
The report highlights the intersecting disadvantages faced by disabled women, who are approximately 2.2 times more likely to be in severely insecure work compared to disabled men. Moreover, disabled workers from ethnic minority backgrounds experience higher levels of insecurity compared to their white disabled counterparts.
The research also unveils the specific challenges faced by individuals with autism and mental health conditions, with a significant proportion being stuck in severely insecure work.
Tackling the Disability Insecurity Gap:
To address the pressing issues faced by disabled workers, the Work Foundation proposes ambitious and transformative measures from both the government and employers. The report calls for widespread flexibility in job roles to accommodate the diverse needs of disabled workers.
Additionally, an Employment Bill is recommended to shift the burden of proof onto organizations, compelling them to demonstrate that a worker is not eligible for employment rights and protections.
The report also emphasizes the importance of protecting disabled benefit claimants from conditionality during the initial six months and extending this support to individuals with short-term health conditions. These measures aim to provide a comprehensive framework for safeguarding the employment rights of disabled workers and fostering meaningful change in the labor market.
The research conducted by the Work Foundation at Lancaster University sheds light on the stark reality faced by disabled workers in the UK. The report emphasizes the need for urgent action to rectify the disparities in job security and opportunities.
By implementing the recommended measures, including job flexibility and a reformed Employment Bill, the government and employers can take significant strides towards eradicating the disability insecurity gap.
It is crucial to empower disabled workers with the support they need to secure quality, secure employment and ensure a more inclusive and equitable labor market for all.