Why reducing the salary of working from home is possible

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Rachel Charlton-Dailey is a journalist specializing in health and disability. His work is featured in publications such as Healthline, Huffpost, Metro UK, The Guardian and Business Insider. Charlton-Dailey often uses its platform to highlight issues that affect people with disabilities. Here, she explains how the proposed pay cuts for working from home would disproportionately affect people with disabilities.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, many companies will expect workers to return to the office. However, some employees are reluctant, especially those of us who are at high risk of catching COVID because we have chronic illnesses, disabilities, or are immunocompromised.

A worrying trend is emerging for those of us who wish to continue working remotely: some companies are floating the idea of ​​reducing the wages of employees who choose to continue working from home.

In August, Reuters reported that Google employees who made the decision to work from home permanently could see their wages drop by up to 25%.

Thrive in remote work

If these wage cuts are widely adopted, people with disabilities will be the most affected because they have benefited the most from being able to work from home instead of having to go to the office. This is especially relevant in the midst of a pandemic that has particularly affected people with weakened immune systems.

Rachel Charlton-Dailey

People with disabilities can now work from home in a way that is comfortable for them, without the pressures of a capable society being exerted on them.

– Rachel Charlton-Dailey

As someone whose career has only been able to flourish through working from home, the idea of ​​pay cuts for working from home moves me deeply. It’s not just me, however, many members of the disability community have thrived in the past 18 months of the pandemic.

People with disabilities can now work from home in a way that is comfortable for them, without the pressures of a capable society being exerted on them.

As long as the pandemic is not yet under control, it is essential that people with disabilities can work safely, and for many people that means working from home. Cutting the wages of these workers forces them to choose between going to work in a potentially dangerous environment and not having the means to live.

People with disabilities already earn less

A 2014 report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) found that working-age people with disabilities in the United States are paid almost 37% less than people without disabilities. The report also showed that non-disabled people with master’s degrees earned on average more than $ 20,000 more than disabled people with the same qualifications.

According to the US Department of Labor, only 17.9% of people with disabilities are employed. People with disabilities are also more likely to be employed part-time than people without disabilities.

The US Census Bureau has found that full-time, full-year workers with disabilities in the United States earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by workers without disabilities. When all workers’ hours and occupations were included, the gap widened to 66 cents on the dollar.

According to the US Department of Labor, only 17.9% of people with disabilities are employed. People with disabilities are more likely to be employed part-time (29% vs. 16% of able-bodied workers). For some, it is because government disability benefits limit their working time. In the United States, Social Security disability insurance stops once a person earns more than $ 1,310 per month, or $ 2,190 if blind.

People with disabilities are also less likely to hold managerial and professional positions than people without disabilities (36.1% versus 43.3% non-disabled).

Being disabled is expensive

UK Disabled People’s Charity Scope estimates that, on average, people with disabilities face additional costs of £ 583 ($ 798) per month, with one in five people spending more than £ 1,000 per month.

The charity’s ‘Disability Price Tag’ report found that £ 100 for a non-disabled person equals just £ 68 for a disabled person (around $ 136 and $ 93, respectively). The additional costs of a disabled adult can represent almost half of their income.

These additional costs come from specialized equipment (such as power chairs and screen reading software), home adaptations (such as the need for ramps and grab bars), and having to pay more for a accessible housing.

£ 100 ($ 136) for a non-disabled person is equivalent to £ 68 ($ 93) for a disabled person.

Additional costs can also include everyday things like having to travel primarily by taxi (because public transport is usually inaccessible) and having foods compatible with special diets (which can be more expensive). People with disabilities can also have higher electricity bills because they have to recharge the equipment. People with limited mobility may need to keep their heat for longer, as they usually don’t create as much body heat as they don’t move as much as a non-disabled person. They may also need heating for medical reasons such as arthritis, circulation, and other musculoskeletal issues.

Of adults with disabilities surveyed for Scope’s “Out in the Cold” study, 55% said they were worried about paying their energy bills.

Workers with disabilities are precious

The scariest part is that some employees say they would welcome a pay cut. In a survey conducted by Goodhire, 61% of the 3,500 people surveyed said they would be prepared to accept a pay cut to continue working remotely.

The pandemic has shown how vital working from home can be, but it has also highlighted how people with disabilities are an asset to the workforce when they have the tools they need to contribute.

Some workers even said they would accept a pay cut of up to 50% to avoid returning to the office, although the most common response was a 10% pay cut (it should also be noted that the (survey focused on the importance of remote work).

The pandemic has shown how vital working from home can be, but it has also highlighted how people with disabilities are an asset to the workforce when they have the tools they need to contribute.

Workers with disabilities bring unique perspectives and ideas to businesses. They make sure people from all walks of life are represented.

We have also provided the home work plan. Many people with disabilities have successfully worked from home for years, proving that we can still blend into a business while working remotely. This is why it is so important that we are not overwhelmed now.

Rachel Charlton-Dailey

People with disabilities are not only valuable in terms of their ability to contribute. We are valuable because we are human beings.

– Rachel Charlton-Dailey


While some people with disabilities were already working from home before the pandemic, it should be remembered that many were denied housing. So it was a blow to the disability community when the accommodations they were told were too hard to make were suddenly implemented on such a large scale during COVID-19.

The pandemic has proven that working from home is possible. To take it off now would just be cruel.

Working from home has meant more to people with disabilities than just avoiding contracting COVID. He removed barriers to accessibility so that we can thrive.

For example, I couldn’t work in an office because I find it difficult to sit at a desk for too long and my fatigue means I have limited amount of energy. Working from home means I can tailor my job to my fatigue and work in bed or wherever my arthritis is most comfortable on certain days. It means I’m well rested and listening to my body in a way that I couldn’t if I was in an office.

Of course, people with disabilities are not only valuable in terms of their ability to contribute. We are valuable because we are human beings. We deserve to have a career, to follow our dreams and even sometimes fail at work, just like everyone else.

Now that the restrictions related to the pandemic are easing, we must continue to support people with disabilities and allow them to work safely.

The information in this article is current as of the date shown, which means more recent information may be available as you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.


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