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BME workers more likely to be trapped in insecure work

15 April 2019

Workers in a distribution centreThe UK labour market is discriminating against black and minority ethnic workers, according to a new report by the TUC.

TUC analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that black and minority ethnic workers are far more likely to be trapped in temporary and insecure work, leaving them working fewer hours and earning less than white workers in the UK jobs market.

There are 3.9 million BME working people in the UK. The TUC analysis shows that they are:

  • More than twice as likely to be stuck on agency contracts than white workers;
  • Much more likely to be on zero hours contracts - one in 24 BME workers is on a zero hours contracts, compared to one in 42 white workers;
  • More likely to be in temporary work - one in 13 BME workers is in temporary work, compared to one in 19 white workers.

The TUC findings also show that many BME workers are experiencing the double hit of underemployment and low pay. BME working people are twice as likely to report not having enough hours to make ends meet. Many are working in temporary and zero hours jobs where pay is typically a third less an hour than for those on permanent contracts.

The TUC says this financial insecurity places many BME workers and their families under significant financial stress and it says this is a result of widespread institutional racism in the labour market.

"Far too many BME workers are stuck in low-paid, insecure and temporary work," said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady. "This has a huge impact on their living standards and life chances.

"This problem isn't simply going to disappear over time. We need a co-ordinated approach led by government to confront inequality and racism in the labour market - and wider society."

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Legislate to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees;
  • Ban zero hours contracts and offer all workers guaranteed hours;
  • Reform the rules so that all workers benefit from the same minimum employment rights, including statutory redundancy pay, protection from unfair dismissal and family friendly rights.

The TUC is also calling on employers to collect and publish data on BME pay, recruitment, promotion and dismissal and set targets for improving race equality within their organisations.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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