Rights groups call on mandatory reporting of numbers of disabled and BAME workers as inequalities go unrecorded

Ben Wray

EHRC find that only 3 per cent of orgnaisations measure their disability and Bame pay gaps

RIGHTS organisations have called on new measures to tackle inequalities in the workplace after it was revealed that most employers do not effectively record or analyse data on wages and promotions of disabled and Black & Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers.

A new report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that, in an era of increasing drives to record and counter the gender pay gap, many companies are failing in their duty to ensure equality for workers from minority groups.

The report found that while 77 per cent of employers claimed to pursue a diverse workforce was a priority, only 44 per cent collected information on whether employees have a disability, 36 per cent record data on employee ethnicity, and only 3 per cent measured ethnicity or disability pay gap.

Talking to CommonSpace, a spokesperson for Inclusion Scotland, the Scotland wide disabled people’s rights organisation, said they supported calls for mandatory reporting.

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“This latest report by the Equalities and Human Right’s Commission highlights what we have known for some time, that whilst employers may say they value diverse workforces, they are simply not collecting, analysing or reporting on employment rates of disabled people or on disability pay gaps.

“Disabled people are already disadvantaged in the jobs market, with only 45 per cent in employment compared with 81 per cent of non-disabled people. When disabled people do get work, it is is often low paid, trapping them in poverty.”

“The disability pay gap is widening. We know that 2015-16 there was a gap in median hourly earnings across Britain with disabled people earning £9.85 compared with £11.41 for non-disabled people. Disabled young people (age 16-24) and disabled women had the lowest median hourly earnings.”

The organisation welcomed the report’s main recommendation of mandatory reporting for companies with over 250 employees on workforce diversity and advancement across the UK.

The spokesperson said: “Inclusion Scotland supports mandatory reporting of disability pay gaps. The requirement for relevant public bodies and private companies with over 250 employees to report on their gender pay gaps has focused media attention on the existence of such pay gaps and has galvanised public opinion towards the need for large employers to address career progression and equal pay for women. We need the same level of scrutiny and focused action on disability pay gaps, as it should drive forward action to tackle unfairness in recruitment, retention and progression opportunities for disabled people.”

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One in four working age disabled people in the UK already live in poverty, with unemployment and low wages a major contributor. Unemployment among ethnic minority groups in the UK is nearly double that of white people.

Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We’ve seen how mandatory reporting has led to employers redoubling efforts to address their gender pay gaps. We need the same level of scrutiny and focused action on opportunities for disabled and ethnic minority staff in the workplace.

“By not identifying and taking action to tackle unfairness in recruitment, retention and progression, employers are putting the careers of their ethnic minority and disabled staff at a disadvantage.

“Collecting meaningful data will give employers the insight they need to tackle the underlying causes of inequality and ensure that disabled people and those from ethnic minorities enjoy a working environment that allows them to reach their full potential.

“Our research has shown that first we need to support employers to collect and analyse data on staff ethnicity and disability and reassure employees about how their information will be used.”

Inclusion Scotland also said that they encouraged Scotland specific steps to reduce work based inequality faced by disabled people.

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“The public sector could lead the way,” the spokesperson stated. “The Scottish public sector specific equality duties already require listed authorities, every four years, to publish occupational segregation information both by grade and by occupation and an equal pay statement.

“The Scottish Government could improve the data on disability pay gaps by introducing regulation and guidance to require listed authorities to report on disability pay gaps.”

Responding to the report, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to equality and, under the Equality Act, listed public authorities in Scotland are already required to take steps to gather information on the composition and recruitment, development and retention of their employees in respect of relevant protected characteristics.

“The Scottish Government cannot place mandatory requirements on private sector employers as this power is reserved to Westminster.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We want to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to progress in the workplace and achieve their potential. It’s really promising that 600,000 more disabled people have moved into work in the last four years. But we want to go much further, and we’re committed to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

“Last year we published the McGregor-Smith review which set out what employers can do to improve ethnic diversity within their organisations, including encouraging employers to report their ethnicity pay gap.”

Picture courtesy of Paul Simpson

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