Today’s ONS (Office for National Statistics) report on the social impacts of Coronavirus on disabled people sheds light on the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people with a disability, with over 7 in 10 disabled adults worried about the effect COVID-19 was having on their life in May 2020.

According to recent research from Barnett Waddingham, disabled employees have been harder hit by COVID-19 in terms of job security too.

Key findings from Barnett Waddingham’s research:

  • Disabled people are almost twice as likely to expect to be made redundant, either immediately or after a period of furlough; 22% expect to be fired either outright or after a period of furlough, compared to 13% of non-disabled employees.
  • 12% expect to take a pay or benefits cut compared to 10% of non-disabled staff, and only 40% anticipate working normally for the next three months, compared to half (51%) of non-disabled employees.
  • 61% of UK employees have seen a member of their household take a salary reduction, and 79% of those say it has affected their mental wellbeing. In terms of how this has impacted the mental health of disabled employees, 24% are likely to report mood swings, while 23% are likely to experience deteriorating relationships.
  • 15% of disabled employees have asked a mental health charity for help compared to 5% of non-disabled employees.
  • When it comes to decisions about personal finance during the Covid-19 pandemic, disabled employees are almost three times as likely to have taken out income protection than non-disabled employees (16% vs 6%).
  • However, disabled employees are more likely to have received communication from their employer regarding their financial health (71% have received some form of communication vs 66% of non-disabled employees).

Peter Meyler, Head of HR Analytics & Consulting at Barnett Waddingham said: “We are now in an employment landscape that was unthinkable just a few months ago, when employment levels were at a record high and we were worrying about skills shortages. Despite heavy investment from the Government in the furlough scheme, employees are anxious and disheartened, and even those currently in work, are pessimistic about the next three months. Crucially, the issues are not just economic. The current situation is perpetuating, and even worsening, social inequalities, with those living in the lowest income households, BAME and disabled employees hit especially hard.

“Employers need to be careful not to view their actions in a vacuum. For those making decisions around pay and potential redundancies, now is the time to consider the wellbeing of your employees and the impact on them as paramount. Communication and engagement are key, and it’s a two way street.”