According to research, an increasing number of black workers in the UK are in temporary jobs, fuelling the debate on racial disparity and insecurity in the labour market. As employment rates hit record highs, policymakers are keen to turn their attention from the quantity of jobs in the market, to their quality. Both main political parties have promised to boost workers’ rights if they win today's general election.
Analysis of official data compiled by the TUC, the trade union umbrella organisation, shows the proportion of black workers in temporary jobs rose from 6.4% to 7.8% between 2011 and 2016. In comparison, over the same period, white workers in temporary job roles held steady at 2.9%. The TUC stated that non – white workers were about a third more likely than white workers to be on temporary or zero hour contracts.
Although trade unions and employers are often at odds over the pros and cons of working within the gig economy, there does now appear to be an emerging consensus on the need for action to improve the quality of work.
The Institute of Directors (‘IoD’), an organisation that represents company directors, has made it clear that it wants greater clarity on the legal definitions of ‘employee’, ‘worker’ and ‘self-employed’. The uncertainty in these grey areas has led to tribunal claims over employers misclassifying staff. This is often due to employers being just as confused as workers on where the legal boundaries lie.
The IoD has also called for gig workers on platforms such as Uber to be allowed to transfer their user ratings when they move to a different platform. It stated that ‘if you are a driver with Uber or working with TaskRabbit, a lot of your reputation is built on a particular platform and that makes it difficult to move to another one. The CBI, Britain’s biggest business lobby group has also proposed some changes to tackle concerns over insecurity. However, the TUC have argued that these changes are not radical enough as have campaigned for compulsory zero-hours contracts to be banned and employment tribunal fees to be scrapped. It has also suggested that all employers should publish ethnic monitoring reports on recruitment, pay and employment type.
An increasing share of black workers in Britain is in temporary jobs, according to research that will fuel the debate on insecurity and racial disparities in the labour market. With employment rates at record highs, policymakers are turning their attention from the quantity of jobs to their quality. Both the Conservatives and Labour have promised to boost workers’ rights if they win next week’s election. They have also pledged to tackle racial and gender imbalances in the workforce.