Caring commitments are forcing black and minority ethnic (BAME) women out of the workplace, figures have revealed.
New data from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has highlighted that BME females are 12 times more likely than their male counterparts to be unemployed because of unpaid caring duties.
Its analysis of official statistics showed that one in eight (12%) ethnic women compared to only one in 100 (1%) men are not working due to their caring responsibilities.
The research found that a total of 460,000 BME women are not working for this reason, and those in their 30s were hardest hit with a fifth (19%) in this age bracket unemployed.
Among white women and men of the same age, these figures were 8% and 1% respectively.
The research revealed that the situation isn’t much better for older women, with one in seven (15%) and one in 10 (10%) in their 40s and their 50s not working because of caring duties.
Additionally, while BME women account for around one in 14 (7%) of those aged 16-plus, they make up more than a quarter (27%) of those who are not employed due to caring responsibilities.
According to the TUC, women are the worst impacted by caring commitments, with a lack of flexible childcare and accessible social care primary causes of the unemployment rate among BME females.
The body also believes that BME families are at greater risk of experiencing poverty because of barriers women face within the employment market.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Women shouldn’t have to give up or cut down on paid work because they can’t find or afford the right care for their children or older or disabled relatives.
“But too many BME women who’d like to be in work are excluded from the jobs market because of their caring commitments.
“Once women leave paid work, they often take that financial hit for the rest of their lives. It’s a key driver of the gender pay gap – and it’s clear it is contributing to a big number of BME households living on the poverty line.
“We desperately need more flexible childcare for all families, that works around shifts, weekend work and irregular working patterns, to support women who want to work.
The TUC is urging the government to take action to stop women being driven out of employment, including ensuring they are fairly paid and properly addressing the gender pay gap.