‘BME workers more than twice as likely to be unemployed after Covid’

Unemployment rate for BME workers now double that of white workers, says TUC.

Stressed woman at work


The unemployment rate for BME workers  has widened during the pandemic and is now more than double that of their white counterparts, according to new TUC research.

It says the unemployment rate for BME workers is now at 7.7%, compared to 3.5% for white workers. The TUC says that is the widest it has been since 2008.

The analysis shows the unemployment rate for BME workers is now 33% higher than it was pre-pandemic. For white workers, it is just 2% higher.

The TUC is calling for an end to the structural discrimination and inequalities that hold BME people back at work.

The TUC says employers should work with trade unions to establish a comprehensive ethnic monitoring system covering ethnicity pay-gap reporting, recruitment, retention, promotion, pay and grading, access to training, performance management and discipline and grievance procedures; analyse, evaluate and publish their monitoring data; and develop action plans that address racial disparities in their workplaces.

It wants the government and public authorities to introduce race equality requirements into public sector contracts for the supply of goods and services. The TUC says this would incentivise companies to improve their race equality policies and practices and minimise the use of zero-hours, temporary and agency contracts and promote permanent employment. It says companies that do not meet the requirements should not be awarded a public contract.

In addition, the TUC is calling on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to work with trade unions to use its investigative powers and the newly established Race Equality Fund to address race discrimination in all labour market sectors.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “BME workers bore the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic. In every industry where jobs were lost to the impact of Covid, BME workers were more likely to have been made unemployed. Now, BME workers are being held back in their search for work.

“The pandemic held up a mirror to discrimination in our labour market.  As we start to build back, the time for excuses and delays is over. Ministers must challenge the systemic racism and inequality that holds back BME people at work.”

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