The number of black and minority ethnic (BME) workers in insecure work surged from 360,200 to 836,340 – a rise of 132% – between 2011 and 2022, a study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found.
The TUC defines insecure work as jobs that come without the stability of regular hours, benefits or job security.
The research found the proportion of BME workers in low-paying and unstable jobs grew from 12.2% to 17.8% over the past decade. In contrast, the percentage of white workers engaged in unstable work rose from 10.5% to 10.8%.
BME workers contributed to approximately two-thirds of the expansion in precarious employment, despite forming 14% of the total UK workforce, according to the study.
The research also found BME men are almost twice as likely to hold unstable jobs than their white counterparts (19.6% versus 11.7%). Similarly, BME women were considerably more likely to be engaged in insecure work compared to white women (15.7% versus 9.9%).
Over the past decade, BME employment grew by 1.7 million people, with 27% of this increase involving unstable work. In contrast, 16% of the growth in white employment was associated with such precarious work.
Paul Nowak, the TUC general secretary, said the findings revealed “structural racism in action”.
He added: “No matter your background, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work. But too many black and ethnic minority workers are trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs with limited rights and protections, and treated like disposable labour.”
The TUC has called on the government to ban zero-hours contracts, introduce fair pay agreements, give workers the right to (rather than the right to request) flexible working and introduce a comprehensive ethnicity monitoring system to assess pay.