Report

Race Inequality in the Workforce in UK – 11 recommendations for government and employers

The effect of Covid-19 on the labour market has impacted specific groups of workers more than others, including those with an ethnic minority background.

The report makes 11 recommendations for government and employers to ensure both that job quality is protected for all and that groups at particular risk are safeguarded.

1 A multi-year jobs plan

The UK Government should build on what has already been achieved and commit to a multi- year focus on protecting jobs and improving job quality for people in work. As a key part of this plan, particular attention and focus must be given to the groups of workers most likely to be disproportionately affected by the crisis, including BAME workers.

2 Put disadvantaged workers at the centre of a new good work plan

The UK Government should set out a clear commitment and plan to work with organisations representing those who are most at risk of poor quality work, including BAME workers. The government should identify and implement effective, tailored responses to meet the needs of these groups.

3 A new, national system for measuring good work

As part of a reaffirmed commitment to good work, the UK Government should work with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to complete the task of setting out a new measurement framework for job quality in the UK. This should build on the work of the Carnegie UK Trust and RSA Measuring Job Quality Working Group,as well as the new questions on progression and employee involvement in decision making recently added to the Labour Force Survey. The new system of measurement must be able to provide segmented data by ethnicity for each aspect of job quality.

4 Use points of leverage to support employers to deliver good work

The UK Government should use the unprecedented levels of reach that it currently has with employers, through the Job Retention Scheme; Job Support Scheme; Business Interruption Loan Scheme; Kick Start Scheme, and other interventions, to encourage employers to take action on key dimensions of good work. This must include reminding employers of their statutory obligations relating to equalities legislation and racial discrimination.

5 Employer organisation support for good work

A range of employer membership organisations, industry bodies, and campaign groups have done vital work connecting businesses to guidance and best practice to support their staff during the pandemic, often making large amounts of free resources available to non-members. We recommend that these organisations continue to emphasise guidance around good work practices in their communications to members to support a ‘job quality rich’ economic recovery. This should include reminding employers of their statutory obligations relating to equalities legislation and racial discrimination.

6 Equalities pay reporting

The UK Government should move forward with the implementation of ethnic minority pay gap reporting as a matter of urgency.

7 Continue to invest and innovate in supporting skills

Recognising the significant shift in skills that are needed in a labour market impacted by Covid-19, the UK Government should continue to build on the positive work to date in relation to the Kick Start Scheme, Adult Education, and the National Skills Fund and invest further to advance high quality training provision. This may be, for example, through the expansion of the National Retraining Scheme or through new initiatives like Personal Individual Learning Accounts. Within these interventions, specific attention should be paid to how to best support BAME young people, who are particularly vulnerable to being ‘left behind’ in the context of a labour market crisis.

8 A new approach to health at work

The UK Government should implement an urgent review of whether adequate resources and infrastructure are in place
to help employers fulfil their duty of care towards their employees’ mental and physical health at work. Based on the outcome of this review, the Government should mandate
and resource additional provision to ensure delivery of employers’ responsibilities. This will include ensuring that relevant health and safety and enforcement bodies and campaigns are adequately resourced to respond to the heightened risks facing workers during the pandemic, including through the delivery of a robust regime around ‘Covid’ secure’ compliance and enforcement. Given the significant disparities in health impacts experienced by BAME workers to date in the Covid-19 crisis, it is imperative that this work is conducted in a robust way, which explores, identifies and addresses the specific concerns of different ethnic groups.

9 Tackle one-sided flexibility

The UK Government should publish the conclusions from the consultation on curbing one-sided flexibility without further delay. The government should take forward the required actions based on the consultation response, making use of the forthcoming Employment Bill if required. This action should take account of the higher exposure to precarious work experienced by BAME workers. As part of the proposed national review of flexible and remote working, there should be a focus on whether the significant growth in remote working during the pandemic has resulted in any new problems in ‘one-sided flexibility’, and for which groups of workers this is most problematic. Specific consideration should be given as to whether BAME workers have experienced any additional disadvantages in remote working arrangements.

Alongside those proposals, we make the following, additional recommendations:

10 Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

We welcome the establishment of the Employment and Enterprise sub-group as part of the Commission and recommend that further information should be published as soon as possible on: the focus of the sub-group’s work; timetable for delivery; an indication of the timeline they will follow; and any opportunities that there may be to engage with the work of the Commission.

11 Delivery on existing proposals

We recommend that action is taken urgently to deliver on the proposals set out in other recent reports on race inequality in the workplace.

In particular, the recommendations proposed by the McGregor Smith Review on Race in the Workplace report and the TUC Dying on the job – racism and risk at work report.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Race Inequality in the Workforce: Analysing the state of play in the coronavirus economy

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