A new report released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that autistic people are the least likely to be in work of any other disabled group. Just 21.7% of autistic people are in employment.

These figures are unacceptable and show that autistic people are systemically denied the right to work while society misses out on the opportunity to benefit from the strengths that autistic people can bring to the workplace.

We need research and proven solutions to ensure that over the next decade we see more autistic people thriving in the workplace.

What we will do next

We are working with University College London to generate cutting-edge research through our DARE initiative that will seed new solutions and ways of supporting autistic people in the workplace.

Sadly, our research to date also finds that autistic people are more likely to be underpaid, underemployed, and poorly supported, with many autistic people feeling unable to disclose that they are autistic. Our research has found new ways for employers to make their workplaces more enabling for autistic people, and to recruit autistic talent.

Over the next year we will share our latest findings which will enable employers to

  • ensure their recruitment process enables autistic people to showcase their talents
  • make evidence-based reasonable adjustments
  • create work cultures that enable employees to disclose that they are autistic

Over the next decade we are committed to delivering research that will deliver change and dramatically cut the employment gap by 2030. To achieve this goal, we will also work with other organisations, and will require substantial commitment from the government to support research and initiatives that will allow autistic people to succeed in the workplace.

More on the findings

Based on the Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics, these employment statistics show that around half of disabled people (52.1%) aged 16 to 64 years in the UK were employed in 2020 compared with around 8 in 10 (81.3%) of non-disabled people. Of that group just 21.7% of autistic people were in employment.

The report also highlighted that disabled people are less likely to be employed in senior roles - suggesting that many of those who are employed are actually under-employed. Disabled people in work were significantly less likely to be employed as managers, directors or senior officials, or to be employed in professional occupations (27.2% compared to 34.5% for non-disabled people). This is the first time this disability report has shown the data for autistic people. It is the first time we are able to compare autism employment rates with other diasbilities.

About the report

The full report: Outcomes for disabled people in the UK: 2020 explores a number of topics affecting the life chances of disabled people including housing, education and employment. The analysis uses estimates from the year 2019-2020 where possible, which does not allow for direct assessment of the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on outcomes of disabled people.