Black and minority ethnic (BME) women are around twice as likely as white workers to be employed in insecure jobs, according to a new study published by the TUC today (Wednesday).
The analysis shows that around 1 in 8 (12.1%) BME women working in the UK are employed in insecure jobs compared to 1 in 16 (6.4%) white women and 1 in 18 (5.5%) white men. The TUC says that many of these roles are in vital front-line services like health and social care.
Put at extra risk
The TUC says that during the pandemic BME staff have been at higher risk of Covid-19 exposure and job loss.
The union body argues that insecure contracts make it harder for workers to assert their rights for a safe workplace, to shield if they – or someone they live with – has a health condition that puts them at higher risk, or to take time off for childcare responsibilities if schools or childcare providers close.
Workplace racism and sexism
Earlier this year an ICM survey for the TUC revealed the daily experiences of racism and sexism for BME workers.
Almost half (45%) of BME women told the TUC they had been singled out for harder or less popular tasks at work, around one third (31%) reported being unfairly passed over for or denied a promotion at work, and 3 in 10 (30%) said they had experienced verbal abuse at work.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity at work and to be paid a fair wage. But coronavirus has exposed huge inequalities in our labour market.
“BME women are far more likely to be stuck in low-paid and high-risk frontline jobs. And all too often they are on contracts with few rights and no sick pay.
“Being trapped in insecure work has exposed BME women to extra risk during this crisis, with many losing their lives. That is not right.
“Ministers must step up and take bold action to tackle structural racism and sexism in our economy – and in wider society.”
The TUC has today published a new briefing paper BME women and work, to prompt discussion and urgent action from employers, trade unions and government. The TUC will be engaging with BME women to ensure that their voices lead the way forward.
Last month the TUC launched a new anti-racism task force. A group of senior leaders from across the trade union movement and civil society led by NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach will investigate the systemic discrimination BME workers face and develop an action plan for change across UK workplaces – and within unions themselves.