A recent analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) highlights a worrying trend in the UK job market, revealing that Black and minority ethnic (BME) women are significantly more likely to be employed on zero-hours contracts compared to their white counterparts. This finding raises concerns about structural racism in the job market and its impact on BME communities.
The TUC’s analysis shows that BME women are almost three times as likely to be on zero-hours contracts as white men, with 6.8% of BME women employed under these conditions compared to only 2.5% of white men. BME men are also affected, though to a lesser extent, with 4.8% being on zero-hours contracts. In contrast, the figure for white women stands at 4.0%, still higher than that for white men.
Rise in Zero-Hours Contracts
Alarmingly, the TUC’s analysis indicates a significant increase in the number of people on zero-hours contracts. Over the past year, this number has risen by nearly 150,000, bringing the total to 1.18 million. BME women have seen the largest proportional increase, with their representation in zero-hours contracts growing three and a half times faster than that of white men.
Zero-hours contracts, which offer little job security and often result in variable hours and low pay, pose numerous challenges for workers. They grant employers significant control over workers’ hours and earnings, creating uncertainty and instability. This unpredictability makes it difficult for workers to manage their personal lives, including caring responsibilities, which predominantly fall on women. The TUC expresses concern that such contracts leave workers, particularly BME women, in a precarious position, struggling with low pay and limited workplace rights.
TUC’s Call for Change
Paul Nowak, TUC General Secretary, emphasizes the need for fair treatment in the workplace, highlighting that BME workers, especially women, are often trapped in low-paid jobs with inadequate rights. He points out the structural racism in the job market and calls for decisive action to address these disparities. The TUC advocates for Labour’s New Deal for Working People, which proposes to ban zero-hours contracts and introduce measures to boost pay and standards, particularly in the social care sector.
The TUC supports Labour’s proposed New Deal for Working People, which aims to transform workers’ rights. This deal includes the introduction of fair pay agreements, particularly in the social care sector, and mandatory reporting of ethnicity and disability pay gaps. It seeks to eliminate zero-hours contracts and ensure all workers have rights from the first day on the job. Additionally, the deal proposes enhancements in enforcement measures to uphold employment rights effectively.
The TUC’s analysis sheds light on a pressing issue in the UK’s employment sector, highlighting the disproportionate impact of zero-hours contracts on BME women. This situation calls for urgent measures to address the underlying issues of structural racism and job insecurity in the labour market. The proposed New Deal for Working People by Labour represents a significant step towards achieving a more equitable and secure working environment for all.
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