Core 10: The Change Makers' Manual

Future of Work



working age are in employment, compared with over 80 per cent of non-disabled people. This represents a disability employment gap of approximately 30 percentage points, which is compounded by a 14 per cent pay gap (up from about 11.5 per cent in 2014). At the outset of the pandemic, many hoped that an increase in working from home would improve these outcomes as disabled people would be able to avoid inaccessible transport systems and workplaces. Indeed, many disabled employees who were able to work at home during the pandemic found it to be a positive experience. A poll published by the Trades Union Congress in October 2021 revealed that 90 per cent wanted to continue working from home at least some of the time. However, assuming that the shift towards home working in the post- pandemic era represents a quick fix to the disadvantage facing disabled workers would be a grave mistake and a distraction from the need for more concerted government action. This is the conclusion that Nick Bacon, of Bayes Business School, and I reached based on our recent research drawing on nationally representative data from 1,552 workplaces and 14,312 employees within the government-sponsored Workplace Employment Relations Study. Our analysis, published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations , found that, prior to the pandemic, disabled employees were less likely to work from home than non-disabled employees. Just 12.8 per cent of disabled people stated that in the last 12 months they had either worked from home or that the option to work from home was available to them, compared with 19.3 per cent of non-disabled people. This is not what we would expect if working from home

were to benefit disabled people’s employment opportunities. A key explanation for this disparity was disabled employees’ disproportionate exclusion from the higher-paying or managerial roles in which working from home is more widely available. Even controlling for this, to enable a more like-with-like comparison, “Disabled people have been denied the same


Why working from home won’t solve the disadvantage faced by disabled employees the gap

1. Employment rates are 30 per cent lower among disabled people of working age. 2. Fewer disabled workers had jobs that allowed them to work at home during the pandemic – just 12.8 per cent compared to 19.3 per cent of non-disabled workers. 3. Home working did not close the gap between disabled workers and their non-disabled colleagues when it came to job control, mental health, job satisfaction, or commitment. 4. Home and hybrid working can create new challenges for disabled workers, such as lower visibility and inaccessible technology. 5. Therefore, the government should focus on policy reform rather than relying on home working to close the disability employment gap.

employment opportunities as the wider population for far too long”

by Kim Hoque

One of the few positives to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the opportunity for many employees to work from home. Born of necessity during lockdown, workers have found their new working patterns have improved both their productivity and their quality of life. Of course, not all staff have benefited equally. Factory and construction workers cannot do their jobs from home. Nor can many of those in the healthcare, retail, and leisure industries. It had been widely assumed that disabled employees would be among the biggest beneficiaries. Disabled people face intractable environmental and cultural barriers in the labour market. Barely half of disabled people of

we found disabled employees were no more likely to work from home than non-disabled employees. In addition, we found that while working from home was associated with a more positive in-work experience for both disabled and non-disabled employees – specifically in relation to levels of job control, job-related mental health, job satisfaction, and organisational commitment (but not work-life balance) – it was not disproportionately beneficial for disabled employees. As such, it did not narrow the gaps between disabled and non-disabled employees regarding their experience of work. This suggests that if working from home becomes more

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