Ethnic minorities more likely to be overlooked for jobs and pay rises


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One in three black and minority ethnic workers claim to have been unfairly turned down for a job, and they are twice as likely to have been kept in insecure work than their white colleagues.

This is according to the TUC, which said the Covid-19 pandemic had shone a spotlight on the discrimination faced by many ethnic minority workers.

Its survey of 2,231 workers across England and Wales found that 33% of black and minority ethnic workers felt their job application had been unfairly turned down, compared with 19% of white workers.

Twenty-nine percent felt they have been overlooked for a pay rise and 28% claimed they had been unfairly turned down for a promotion, compared with 22% and 21% of white workers respectively.

Around 13% of those who took part in the survey were from an ethnic minority background (306 people).

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “BME workers are far more likely than white workers to be turned down for jobs, pay rises and promotions. And they are more likely to be in low-paid, insecure jobs, with fewer rights and a greater risk of being exposed to coronavirus.

“Ministers must tackle the structural racism that exists within our economy – and wider society – once and for all.”

Workers from ethnic minority backgrounds were twice as likely as white workers to say they have been kept on insecure contracts when colleagues have not. Previous TUC analysis found that 12% of ethnic minority women (6% white women) and 9% of ethnic minority men (5% white men) are employed in insecure work.

One in seven BME workers said they had been told by their employer that their job may be at risk if they do not accept worse conditions or reapply for their job, compared with one in 13 white workers.

The TUC has launched an “anti-racism task force” alongside the NASUWT teachers’ union. Its chairperson, Dr Patrick Roach, said there was “incontrovertible” evidence of racism in the working world.

“Black workers have been denied the opportunities to secure decent, rewarding and secure jobs, and this situation is getting worse as a result of the adverse economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr Roach.

“Structural racism is holding back communities and blighting life chances. A national plan is needed urgently to end racial disparities in employment by addressing the root causes head on.”

The TUC has urged the government to:

  • Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans
  • Ban zero-hours contracts and strengthen the rights of insecure workers
  • Publish all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and be fully transparent about how it considers BME communities in its policy decisions.

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