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Purple Tuesday and Disability Pay Gap Day

Posted by Francis Whitehead on November 7, 2023

Purple Tuesday and Disability Pay Gap Day logos on a purple background with illustrations of a disability symbol and a £ symbol, with a dotted line inbetween

The 7th of November happens to be a very important date for those in the disabled community this year.

Introduced by the TUC in 2019, the 7th of November is Disability Pay Gap Day. The reason it falls on this day in particular is because it’s the day when the average Disabled worker stops getting paid for the rest of the year, compared to the average non-disabled worker. This means that that Disabled workers will work 54 days without pay this year.

The Disability Pay Gap has widened this year and TUC research now shows that non-disabled workers now earn a sixth (17.2%) more than disabled workers (up from 16.5% in 2021). This means that on average, disabled workers will work 54 days without pay this year.

Also on this day is Purple Tuesday, a global social movement that encourages businesses and companies to improve customer experiences for disabled people.

What is the Disability Pay Gap?

Text on screen reads "Disabled worked earn £3,731 less than non-disabled workers" above an office cubicle

The Disability Pay Gap is the difference between the median hourly pay of disabled and non-disabled people, and the pay gap for disabled workers currently stands at £2.05 an hour – or £3,731 per year for someone working a 35-hour week.

This is at a time when the cost of living is growing and growing. 

The gap is even bigger for disabled women. Non-disabled men are paid on average 35 per cent more than disabled women. That equates to a huge £7,144 a year.

Not only are disabled workers paid less than non-disabled workers, they are also more likely to be excluded from the job market.

The disability employment gap is the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people. In 2021/22, the employment rate for disabled people was 53.3 per cent, compared to 81.9 per cent for non-disabled people.

This means that disabled workers are less likely to have a paid job and when they do, they earn substantially less than their non-disabled peers.

Everybody deserves a job with decent pay. Being disabled should not mean you’re on a lower wage – or that you’re excluded from opportunities in any field of work.

The Industries

The pay gap also varies substantially by industry. The highest pay gap, by far, is in the finance and insurance industry, where on average, non-disabled employees earn £5.90 per hour more than disabled employees. Two other industries have pay gaps larger than £2.05: professional, scientific, and technical services (£2.35) and agriculture (£2.25). In almost every industry, the facts and figures show that disabled employees are paid less than non-disabled employees.

There have been a few attempts to explain why this is the case, and it usually boils down to the employers. Although laws and acts have come into place to make sure disabled people all have the same opportunities as those without disabilities, employers may be reluctant to employ someone with a disability because of stereotypes, or the way they perceive someone with a disability. Those with disabilities may still get employed, but only offered low-paying jobs.

To address the causes of the pay gap, the TUC is calling for:

  • The National Minimum Wage to be raised to £15 an hour as soon as possible.
  • More funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to enforce disabled workers’ rights to reasonable adjustments.
  • A stronger legal framework for reasonable adjustments including: ensuring employers respond quickly to requests, substantial penalties for bosses who fail to provide adjustments and for reasonable adjustment passports to be mandatory in all public bodies.
  • A day one right to flexible working for everyone and a duty on employers to include possible flexible working options in job adverts.

Failure to give employees reasonable adjustments when they require them can have catastrophic consequences. Scope UK released Jo’s story last year, where her leg got infected after it took her employers three months to get her the leg stool she needed.

What is Purple Tuesday?

Purple Tuesday logo

Purple Tuesday falls on the first Tuesday of every November, and is all about sending an open invitation to companies and businesses to make their products, services, websites, and buildings more accessible for disabled people. It aims to emphasise the spending power of ‘The Purple Pound’, referring to disabled consumers and customers.

The Purple Pound is the estimated spending power of disabled households in the UK. It’s currently thought to be worth £249 billion and is expected to increase every year! However, by not understanding the requirements and difficulties disabled people face when trying to shop either in-store or online, British businesses are losing billions of pounds every year.

That’s what they really want to drive home, the fact that creating a more accessible experience helps not only disabled customers, but the businesses themselves.

Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health, and Work, says:

“Ensuring that disabled people are able to access shops, restaurants and clubs isn’t just the right thing to do - it makes business sense too.

By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on the spending power of disabled people and are denying them the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted”.

A massive 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service, which illustrates the problem most retailers face in terms of accessibility.

What’s more, Purple estimated that these businesses lose these amounts of money through poor accessibility:

  • High Street Shops lose £267 million
  • Restaurants, Pubs and Clubs lose £163 million
  • Supermarkets lose £500 million
  • Energy companies lose £44 million
  • Phone & Internet providers lose £49 million
  • Transport providers lose £42 million
  • Banks & Building Societies lose £935 million

These whopping amounts just go to show the immense spending power of The Purple Pound!

Making a Difference

So, how can businesses make an effort to become more accessible and accommodating for disabled customers? Here’s a few ways:

  • Implement wheelchair ramps, elevators and disabled bathrooms
  • Offer inclusive customer service training
  • Support staff to learn sign language
  • Implement the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard scheme
  • Ensure all websites have accessibility features like subtitles and alt text integrated
  • Introduce quiet hours in physical spaces
  • Commit to an Access Audit of your site

How Can I Get Involved?

You can get involved with these fantastic causes by sharing as much as you can on your social media accounts to spread the word. You can do this by using the hashtags #PurpleTuesday and #IAmYourCustomer for Purple Tuesday and #DisabilityPayGapDay.

If you’re an employer, you can make the effort to make businesses a more accessible and accommodating place for disabled people by offering equal opportunities in work places and implementing accessibility features.

You can also register as an organisation here.

Get in Touch

How will you be celebrating and spreading the word for both Disability Pay Gap Day and Purple Tuesday? Ability Superstore would love to know! Do let us know by getting in touch.