Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers are much more likely than white workers to be in insecure jobs such as zero-hours contracts, according to the Trades Union Congress.

The TUC is urging policymakers and employers to tackle bias and racism in the workplace after its research found one in every 13 BAME workers is in temporary or zero-hours work, compared with one in 20 white workers.

Its analysis of the 3.1 million BAME employees in the UK, showed that nearly a quarter of a million were in temporary jobs or on zero-hours contracts that do not guarantee workers a minimum number of hours in any given week.

Black workers in particular faced insecurity at work, and were more than twice as likely as white workers to be in temporary and zero-hours work, the research found. One in eight black workers were employed on that basis, compared with one in 20 white workers.


“This problem isn’t simply going to disappear. Dealing with insecure work has to be top of the list for the next government. And we need a real national strategy to confront racism in the labour market.”

Frances O'Grady
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

The report builds on previous research by the TUC that found BAME workers were also far more likely than white workers to be underemployed with fewer hours of employment than they would like and that BAME graduates were more likely to be unemployed than their white peers.

The latest report highlights a sharp rise in the number of black workers, and black women in particular, on temporary contracts over recent years.

Between 2011 and 2016 the number of black workers on temporary contracts jumped 58% – more than seven times the 8% increase for white workers. The number of black women on temporary contracts soared 82% in that time, compared with a 37% increase for black men.

The trade union group is also calling for rules that force employers to publish ethnic monitoring reports on recruitment, pay and employment type.

That push for more transparency echoes a key recommendation in a government-backed review into race in the workplace, published earlier this year, that highlighted a number of factors holding back BAME workers, including recruitment processes and management bias.

The report’s author, the businesswoman Ruby McGregor-Smith, called on employers to come clean about their lack of diversity by publishing a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band. She urged ministers to enforce such reporting by law if employers do not comply.



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