No sooner do we click send on our latest newsletter focussing on inequalities (check it out here) than we hear of yet another inequality – disabled mums are three times more likely to have lost work during the pandemic compared to non-disabled parents. This is a shocking statistic, and is just one of the conclusions of latest research undertaken to examine the impact of the pandemic on disabled people.
Other key findings included:
- Half (49%) of disabled mothers have been furloughed compared to one third (34%) of non-disabled mothers;
- Three times as many disabled mothers lost their main job than non-disabled mothers (20% of disabled mothers compared to 7% of non-disabled mothers);
- In addition, over one third (34%) of disabled parents lost working hours compared to about one quarter (26%) of non-disabled parents;
- Six in 10 (58%) of disabled mothers report struggling to make ends meet compared to 36% of non-disabled mothers;
- High levels of anxiety were reported by 62% of disabled compared to 38% of non-disabled mothers.
The research highlights the major disruptions to work and finance that disabled parents have experienced because of the coronavirus pandemic. Disabled mothers and fathers
have been furloughed and lost hours and jobs at significantly higher rates than nondisabled parents. This is partly a result of more disabled parents being identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, and therefore required to shield during the pandemic – more than one in four disabled parents were furloughed because they had to shield compared to less than ten percent of non-disabled parents.
Disabled parents were also twice as likely to say that they were unfairly chosen for furlough and two and half times as likely to say they lost their job or working hours unfairly.
The precarity of disabled parents’ employment is reflected in their responses to questions about their financial and emotional wellbeing. Well over half of disabled parents said they were worried about their job prospects in the next 12 months and were struggling to make ends meet – including almost six in ten disabled mothers. Levels of anxiety are considerably higher among disabled parents, with disabled mothers significantly more like to report high anxiety levels than all other groups.
It is wrong that disabled people still experience inequality in today’s modern society, and it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure fairness for everyone in the workplace. Employers need to be aware that failure to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers, such as providing PPE or allowing home working, is a form of unlawful discrimination.
Furthermore, employers should be encouraged to continue providing pandemic-induced flexible work options unless there is a legitimate business reason not to. Flexible working is here to stay, and businesses that embrace this for all of their staff will retain a motivated workforce.
The research was funded by Standard Life Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, and the full report can be read here.