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Labour Market ‘Discriminating’ Against BME Employees

April 17th, 2019

A new report has revealed that the labour market is discriminating against black and minority ethnic (BME) employees, showing that they are faring worse than their white counterparts when it comes to jobs.

The TUC study found that the 3.9 million BME members of staff are more than twice as likely to find themselves on agency contracts and more likely to be on zero-hour contracts. In all, one in 24 BME workers are on such contracts, compared to one in 42 white employees.

Not only that but BME staff members are also twice as likely to say they don’t have enough hours in order to make ends meet – so it’s a double whammy of underemployment and low pay. And many of those in temporary or zero-hour jobs find themselves with pay packets that are typically a third less an hour than for people on permanent contracts.

The TUC is now calling on the government to bring in mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for all companies that have over 50 members of staff, which included a duty to produce an action plan. Zero-hour contracts should also be banned, with all staff given guaranteed hours.

Employers are now also being urged to collect and publish data on BME recruitment, pay, promotion and dismissal, prior to government action on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. Targets should also be set for improving race equality in-house, with progress measured and report against these targets each year.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general-secretary, commented: “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 coordinated approach led by government to confront inequality and racism in the labour market – and wider society.”

Last year, the TUC also published a report revealing that young BME workers face numerous challenges in the labour market, with high unemployment levels seen among this demographic. They face a lack of access to the labour market and insecure jobs, while young BME workers face racial abuse in the workplace.

Findings show that young BME employees were more likely than their older counterparts to have had racist comments directed towards them or to have heard them aimed at someone else. Not only that but they were also more likely to have seen racist content being shared online.

And in 2017, further TUC research found that 37 per cent of BME women left a job because of assault or physical violence, 41 per cent who had experienced harassment or bullying in the workplace said they wanted to leave their jobs but were unable to afford to, and 42 per cent said they didn’t feel able to report instances of discrimination to their employers.

And of the BME women who experienced harassment and bullying in the workplace, almost 60 per cent said that the incident affected their mental health.


What to do if you experience discrimination in the workplace

If you think you have been unfairly discriminated against at work, you can make a complaint directly to the person involved or the organisation in question, use alternative dispute resolution or mediation to help you sort it out, or make a claim in a court or tribunal.

It’s advisable to talk to your employer first to try and resolve the problem informally but if this isn’t possible, get in touch with your trade union representative, Citizens Advice or Acas to see what they’d advise.

It’s illegal to treat someone less favourably than others because of a characteristic like sex, religion, age or gender reassignment. Discrimination can include selecting a particular employee for redundancy, not hiring someone or paying someone less than someone else for no good reason.

Remember that everyone is entitled to be treated fairly in their jobs and at work, including anyone applying for a new position with a different company. If you feel as though you’ve been treated unfairly or differently because of a personal characteristic (as mentioned above), it’s possible that you may have been the victim of discrimination.

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently or less favourably because they possess different characteristics to other staff members. Indirect discrimination, meanwhile, takes place when certain rules or regulations in the workplace put some staff members at a disadvantage.

It might be a good idea to get in touch with discrimination solicitors like Lennons for support and confidential advice in confronting and managing the treatment you’ve received. We’ve been practising law for over 35 years and we have specialist lawyers on our team who will be able to give you the very best personal service.

Employers need to be proactive when it comes to preventing discrimination in order to stay on the right side of the law. This starts from the recruitment process and you need to make sure that the very job ad itself doesn’t discriminate by using particular words. All candidates also need to be asked the same set of questions so that they’re all treated the same.

Also make sure that you have an equal opportunities policy in place, which lays out the protected characteristics, what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable, and what constitutes direct and indirect discrimination. Having this policy as standard will immediately show your workforce and job recruits that you’re a caring employer that believes in equal opportunity and that all staff members should be treated fairly.

Training is also a must so make sure that your staff members are educated about discrimination, making sure that they know what your stance as an organisation is on this particular issue.

If a complaint of discrimination does come in, make sure it’s dealt with quickly and confidentially. As such, a good complaints procedure should be implemented so employees feel as though they’re listened to and respected by you and your organisation.


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