This is compared to under a fifth of white workers (19 per cent) who reported the same treatment.

New research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) finds that a third of Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) employees report being unfairly turned down for a vacancy.

This group was also more likely to say they had been unfairly overlooked for a pay rise (29 per cent) and a promotion (28 per cent). This was in contrast to white workers, of which just over a fifth (22 per cent) say they were not given a pay rise or a promotion (21 per cent).

Another area which impacted BME workers in particular were insecure contracts. The research found that BME workers were almost twice as likely (20 per cent compared to 11 per cent) to say that they have been kept on insecure contracts when their colleagues have not.

This group were also more at risk of experiencing firing and rehiring tactics – with one in seven BME workers (15 per cent) being told by an employer that their job may be at risk if they do not accept worse conditions.

This is in line with previous research conducted by the TUC which found BME women are twice as likely (12 per cent) as white women (6 per cent) to be employed in insecure jobs.

To tackle the varying issues facing BME workers, the TUC have called on the Government to introduce the following:

  • Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and making employers publish action plans to ensure fair treatment for BME workers in the workplace.
  • Banning zero-hours contracts and strengthening the rights of insecure workers – which will have a positive impact on BME workers.
  • Publishing all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and to be fully transparent about how it considers BME communities in its policy decisions.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the racism faced by BME workers around the country.

BME workers are far more likely than white workers to be turned down for jobs, pay rises and promotions. And they are more likely to be in low-paid, insecure jobs, with fewer rights and a greater risk of being exposed to coronavirus.

Ministers must tackle the structural racism that exists within our economy – and wider society – once and for all.

Dr Patrick Roach, Chair of the Anti-Racism Taskforce, added:

The evidence of racism at work is incontrovertible.

Black workers have been denied the opportunities to secure decent, rewarding and secure jobs, and this situation is getting worse as a result of the adverse economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Structural racism is holding back communities and blighting life chances.  A national plan is needed urgently to end racial disparities in employment by addressing the root causes head on.

*The TUC surveyed 2,231 workers in England and Wales through a BritainThinks online survey which took place between 19-29 November 2020.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.