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Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers are a third more likely to be underemployed than white workers, according to a new TUC report published today (Monday).

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers are a third more likely to be underemployed than white workers, according to a new TUC report published today (Monday).

The research shows that if BAME workers faced the same rate as white workers, over 110,000 would be lifted out of underemployment.

According to the latest ONS figures for the first quarter of 2016, BAME workers face an underemployment rate of 15.3%, compared to a rate of 11.5% for white workers.

The TUC analysis comes the week after the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that BAME workers also face higher unemployment rates, lower pay, and are underrepresented in senior roles.

The findings are released as part of a TUC submission to the McGregor-Smith Review, a government consultation on “developing black and minority ethnic talent”.

Commenting on the figures, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Underemployment is a major problem in the UK, and it only gets worse if you’re black, Asian, or part of any ethnic minority. This is not only wrong, but a massive waste of talent too.

“We know this is part of a much bigger story. BAME workers are more likely to be unemployed, paid less, and aren’t getting enough of the top jobs.

“Employers and the government cannot afford to ignore these problems. They must now take real action to tackle underemployment and pay discrimination.”

To combat racism in the labour market, the TUC is calling for employers to take measures including:

  • publishing ethnic monitoring reports on underemployment, hiring, firing, promotion, and training;
  • using standardised, anonymous job application forms for new hires;
  • establishing clear, written procedures for dealing with discrimination at work;
  • advertising opportunities for training, extra hours, and development such as deputising and secondments to all staff.

The TUC is calling on the government to take measures including:

  • developing a comprehensive race equality strategy;
  • expanding workers’ rights to include temporary and part-time workers;
  • eliminating tribunal fees, especially for discrimination cases;
  • using public sector contracts to drive best practices among private employers.



Q1 2016

Q1 2016 %







Source: ONS Labour Force Survey, Q1 2016

- Underemployment is measured as the number of workers who want to work more hours and can do so, but are not able to get them.

- BAME workers include all those who do not identify as White, White British, or White Irish.

- The findings of the EHRC report on race inequality, which cites previous TUC research on race equality, can be found here:

- All TUC press releases can be found at
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews

- Congress 2016 will be held in the Brighton Centre from Sunday 11 September to Wednesday 14 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Tuesday 23 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Brighton and will cost £75.

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