BME workers far more likely to be trapped in insecure work, TUC analysis reveals

By agency reporter
April 16, 2019

 Black and minority ethnic workers (BME) are far more likely to be trapped in temporary and insecure work, according to new Trades Union Congress (TUC) analysis published on 12 April 2019, at the start of its annual Black Workers Conference.

The analysis shows how BME workers are faring worse than white workers in the jobs market.

Stuck in temporary and insecure work

There are 3.9 million BME working people in the UK. 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 are on zero-hours contracts, compared to one in 42 white workers
  • One in 13 BME workers (264,000) are in temporary work, compared to one in 19 white workers

Underemployment and low pay

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

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Far too many BME workers are stuck in low-paid, insecure and temporary work. 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, including a duty to produce an action plan 
  • Ban ZHCs 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

 And the TUC is calling on employers to:

  • Collect and publish data on BME pay, recruitment, promotion and dismissal, ahead of government action on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting
  • Set targets for improving race equality within their organisations
  • Measure and report progress against those targets annually
  • Work with trade unions to establish targets and develop positive action measures to address racial inequalities within the workforce
  • Make it clear they have zero tolerance of racism and support all staff who raise concerns about racism

 * All figures are taken from the ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS) Q4 2018.
 * Trades Union Congress

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