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Will Disabled Workers Be Winners or Losers in the Post-COVID-19 Labour Market?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
Article number1030013
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/07/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Disabilities
Issue number3
Volume1
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)161-173
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Workplace inflexibility contributes to the higher rates of job loss and unemployment experienced by disabled people. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries already had significant disability employment gaps. Based on evidence from previous recessions, the global recession resulting from the pandemic is likely to have a severer and longer-lasting impact on the employment of disabled workers compared with non-disabled workers. In the UK, there is already evidence that the disability employment gap has widened since the pandemic. On the other hand, the pandemic initiated increased access to home-working, a change in working arrangements that may prove beneficial to disabled workers employed in desk-based roles. Home-working can increase the accessibility of employment and support work retention for disabled workers, yet pre-pandemic many employers had withheld it. Studies of employees’ and employers’ experiences of home-working during the pandemic have indicated a desire to retain access to home-working in the future. A permanent cultural shift to increased access to home-working would help address the disability employment gap for desk-based workers. However, disabled workers are over-represented in jobs not conducive to home-working, and in sectors that have been hardest hit by business closures during the pandemic, so the position of many disabled workers is likely to remain precarious.