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Minority ethnic workers more likely to be in insecure jobs

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Black and ethnic minority (BME) workers are twice as likely to be employed in insecure jobs compared to their white counterparts, according to analysis over the past decade.

Analysis published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) found that more BME workers were in jobs that are characterised by having low pay, variable hours and fewer rights and protections.

Over the course of 11 years between from 2011 to 2022, the number of BME workers employed in insecure work more than doubled from 360,200 to 836,340.

The chances of a BME worker being in precarious employment has increased from one in eight twelve years ago, to one in six currently.

This is despite BME workers making up just 14% of the overall workforce.

The TUC said  that the rise in BME workers in insecure work is a reflection of the boom in these types of jobs which have been created over the past decade.

In addition, the TUC warned that the UK is becoming a “nation of insecure jobs”, with unstable and low-paid work widespread in all regions.

Overall, there are currently there are 3.9 million people in insecure employment, the trade body found, which equates to one in nine of the entire UK workforce.

The industries with the highest ration of insecure work include caring, leisure services, and process, plant and machine operatives.

‘Everyone deserves dignity and respect’

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “No matter your background, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work. But too many BME workers are trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs with limited rights and protections, and treated like disposable labour. The massive and disproportionate concentration of BME workers in insecure work, like in the gig economy, is structural racism in action.

“Across the labour market, and at every stage, BME workers face discrimination and persistent barriers at work. From not getting the job despite being qualified for the role, to being passed over for promotion, to being unfairly disciplined at work. These barriers lead to stark inequalities and it’s why we’re seeing BME workers disproportionately in the worst jobs with the worst pay and conditions.”

“It’s time to end the scourge of insecure work once and for all, that’s how we start to tackle the discrimination that holds BME workers back. That means banning exploitative zero hours contracts. It means delivering fair pay agreements to lift pay and standards across whole industries.

“And it means placing a duty on employers to report their ethnicity pay gap and take action to close it.”