The Disability Gap: Insecure work in the UK

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This new research uses the Work Foundation’s UK Insecure Work Index, which combines three elements that constitute insecurity at work – employment contracts, personal finances, and access to workers’ rights, to identify a substantial disability insecurity gap. This is concerning, as periods of severely insecure work can worsen a disabled worker’s health and prospects of gaining secure employment.

This new analysis estimates that 27% of disabled workers (1.3 million) are in severely insecure work in the UK, compared to 19% of non-disabled workers. This inequality is reflected at all levels, with even disabled workers in the most senior positions more likely to experience severely insecure work.

Figure 1: Insecure work in the UK and the disability insecurity gap, 2022

Figure 1: Inscure work in the UK and the disability insecrity gap, 2022Source: Work Foundation calculations of the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey –April-June 2022.

Furthermore, groups of disabled workers who face structural barriers to entering and staying in work are also disproportionately more likely to be in insecure roles. This research finds that:

  • Disabled women face a dual disadvantage and are approximately 2.2 times more likely to be in severely insecure work than disabled men
  • Disabled workers from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be in severely insecure work relative to white disabled workers (29% vs 26%)
  • One in three autistic workers (38%) and a quarter of people with mental health conditions (28%) are in severely insecure work compared to 20% with other disabilities and conditions.

The Work Foundation’s new briefing sets out policy recommendations to improve job security and embed flexibility in all roles, as well as policies that would help disabled workers progress to more secure and higher-paid roles. We propose the Government should:

  • Increase job security and flexibility for all workers
  • Reform Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Improve enforcement of labour market regulations
  • Strengthen Statutory Sick Pay to improve chances of disabled workers returning to work

Read the full briefing here

Event recording

On Wednesday 12 July 2023, the Work Foundation hosted the Disability Insecurity Gap webinar. The webinar explored new research looking at the experiences of disabled people in severely insecure work, and the wider implications for the UK labour market and society.

View the webinar here

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