Disabled workers earn 20p in pound less than their colleagues
Social Security Scotland has been accused of handing its disabled staff a “raw deal” after it emerged it pays disabled employees 20p in the pound less than their colleagues.
Data shows that the new agency built on “fairness, dignity and respect,” has a 20% disability salary gap, meaning disabled staff are missing out on pay, promotion and opportunities other workers enjoy.
Although less than a year old, Social Security Scotland claims to be a “disability confident employer” but the existence of such a big gap suggests that disabled people are only securing low-paid jobs and not making it to leadership grades.
Labour’s social security spokesman Mark Griffin said ministers must urgently close the gap.
He told TFN: “Scotland’s brand new benefits agency is meant to be giving disabled people a fresh start, but already its own disabled staff are being handed a raw deal.
“It’s unacceptable that disabled staff, working hard to deliver new benefits with dignity and respect, are themselves being paid 20 pence less in every pound compared to their colleagues.
“This agency, not even a year old, has a real chance to set an example, boost incomes and change the lives of disabled people.
“Ministers urgently need to close this gap, give their disabled staff the pay and jobs they rightly deserve, and make this agency look like the people it is set to help.”
The disability pay gap – the difference between what non-disabled and disabled workers earn – is split between mean and median. Median is described as the more accurate of the two because it represents a true salary while the mean can be skewed by a handful of highly paid employees.
Figures given to Griffin show a number of other leading Scottish Government bodies are failing their disabled employees, led by Education Scotland. The body employed 282 people in five locations across the country and shows a huge disparity of 34% as its median pay gap.
Bill Scott, director of policy at Inclusion Scotland, said: “Unfortunately we don’t find the figures too surprising.
"Disabled people who manage to secure employment are often taken on in entry level type jobs – the problem being that unlike non-disabled people they almost invariably get stuck in them and fail to make any career progression.
“This then becomes an issue when something like a new government agency is being established.
“Until disabled people have the same chances of being recruited as non-disabled people then we will not be comparing like with like when it comes to retention, promotion and pay levels.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that it had worked to make sure disabled people identified as such with 22% of employees within Social Security Scotland identifying as having a long-standing physical or mental health condition, illness, impairment or disability which they said was more than representative of Scottish society.
The spokesperson added: “Social Security Scotland is still a very new agency and the majority of new positions within the organisation have been for entry level client advisor roles.
“We remain committed to broadening the diversity of employees at all levels.”
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