COVID-19, Disability and Employment


Bryan ML, Bryce AM, Roberts J (2021) Employment related COVID-19 exposure risk among disabled people in the UK. Social Science and Medicine – Population Health Vol 16. 

We provide new evidence about the work-related exposure of disabled people to COVID-19 using household survey data combined with a novel occupational risk indicator. Despite their higher clinical vulnerability, disabled people in employment in the UK were significantly more likely to be going out to work during the pandemic rather than working from home, and were working in occupations that were more exposed to COVID-19 than the occupations of non-disabled workers. Our results raise questions about whether there are sufficient safeguards for disabled people in the workplace, and have longer-term implications for a labour market where COVID-19 is a persistent health issue.

Bryan ML, Bryce AM, Rice N, Roberts J, Sechel C. (2022) Exploring mental health disability gaps in the labour market: the UK experience during COVID-19. Labour Economics Vol 78.

People with long-term mental health problems that affect their daily activities are a growing proportion of the UK working population and they have a particularly low employment rate. We analyse gaps in labour market outcomes between mental health disabled and non-disabled people during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We also decompose the outcome gaps in order to explore the relative importance of different factors in explaining these gaps. Our results suggest that the employment effects of the pandemic for mental health disabled people may have been temporary. However, they were more likely to be away from work and/or working reduced hours than people without a disability. Workers with mental health disability were over-represented in part-time work and in caring, leisure and other service occupations, which were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the economic response. This is important new evidence on the contribution of segmentation and segregation in explaining the labour market position of people with mental health disability. The longer term effects of the pandemic were still not apparent at the end of our analysis period (2021:Q3), but the concentration of disabled workers in cyclically sensitive sectors and part-time work means that they will always be particularly vulnerable to economic downturns.

Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.