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A third (33%) of black and minority ethnic (BME) workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job compared to 19% of white workers, according to a new TUC survey published today (Friday).
  • TUC poll finds BME workers are more likely than white workers to say that they are turned down for jobs, pay rises and promotions  

  • BME staff are also twice as likely to report being kept on insecure contracts, or being forced to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions 

  • TUC anti-racism task force will begin gathering evidence this weekend  

A third (33%) of black and minority ethnic (BME) workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job compared to 19% of white workers, according to a new TUC survey published today (Friday). 

The research shows that BME workers are also more likely to say that they have been unfairly overlooked for a pay rise (29%) or a promotion (28%) than white workers (22% and 21% respectively). 

Insecure work 

BME workers are twice as likely as white workers (20% compared to 11%) to say that they have been kept on insecure contracts when colleagues have not. 

Previous TUC analysis has revealed that BME women are twice as likely as white workers to be employed in insecure jobs. One in eight (12%) BME women are in insecure jobs compared to one in 16 (6%) white women and one in 18 (5%) white men. And one in 11 (9%) of BME men are employed in insecure work. 

Many of these roles are in vital frontline services like health and social care. 

Lack of career progression  

BME workers are around twice as likely to prioritise a job with career progression (21% compared to 11% for white workers) and training opportunities (15% to 8%). The TUC suggests that BME workers are less likely to have access to development opportunities in their current roles. 

And the research also shows that one in seven (15%) BME workers have been told by their employer that their job may be at risk if they do not accept worse conditions or reapply for their job, compared to one in 13 (8%) white workers. 


Analysis published by the TUC in late February revealed that the unemployment rate for BME workers has risen at more than twice the rate of the unemployment rate for white workers. 

The analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that the BME unemployment rate shot up from 5.8% to 9.5% between the final quarter of 2019 and the final quarter of 2020 – an increase of nearly two thirds.  

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.” 

The TUC has launched an anti-racism task force, chaired by NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, to lead the trade union movement’s renewed campaign against racism at work. 

At the Black workers’ conference this weekend, the task force will engage with BME workers across the UK to hear about their experiences.  

Dr Patrick Roach said: “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.” 

Government and employers must act 

The TUC is calling on government to act now to challenge structural racism in the UK and: 

  • Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans to ensure fair treatment for BME workers in the workplace. 

  • Ban zero-hours contracts and strengthen the rights of insecure workers – which will have a positive impact on BME workers. 

  • Publish all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and be fully transparent about how it considers BME communities in its policy decisions. 

Editors note

- The BritainThinks online survey was conducted between 19-29 November 2020 with a sample of 2,231 workers in England and Wales – nationally representative according to ONS Labour Force Survey Data. Within this, there was a boost to the audience of BAME workers (n=306). For more information about BritainThinks please visit:  
- The TUC will hold its annual Black Workers’ conference from today (19 March) until Sunday 21 March. Panels include one discussing the trade union response to racism at work, with Frances O’Grady, NASUWT General Secretary and Chair of the TUC’s anti-racism task force Dr Patrick Roach, and Chair of the TUC’s Race Relations Committee Gloria Mills. There will also be an international panel of speakers from Brazil, India, Palestine, South Africa and the USA will discuss how we can reinvigorate and rebuild and international anti-racism movement, and a panel on Covid-19 and the vaccine. For more information visit: 
- Analysis published by the TUC in late February revealed that the unemployment rate for BME workers has risen at more than twice the speed of the unemployment rate for white workers:  
- Analysis by the TUC in October 2020 found that BME women are around twice as likely as white workers to be employed in insecure jobs:  
- Research published by the TUC in September 2020 revealed that BME workers have been over-represented in jobs with higher Covid-19 death rates: 
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 


TUC press office   
020 7467 1248  

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