New research shows that minority ethnic workers in the UK are disproportionately paid below the real Living Wage:
- 33% of Bangladeshi workers, 29% Pakistani workers and 25% Black workers are earning below the Living Wage, compared to 20% of White British workers;
- Over half (56%) of minority ethnic workers said they had been discriminated against at work, with over a third (34%) having been passed up for a promotion due to their ethnicity.
Minority ethnic workers are disproportionately paid the lowest wages in the UK, new research by the Living Wage Foundation shows. The data was taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey and re-weighted to the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings .
The research found that 33% of Bangladeshi workers, 29% of Pakistani and 25% of Black workers are paid below the real Living Wage, compared to 20% of White British workers.
With those on the lowest incomes most vulnerable to rising inflation, the study shows that minority ethnic workers, who were disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, are once again at the sharp end of a national crisis.
Separate polling of over 2,000 minority ethnic workers by Survation found that workers reported being trapped in low paid roles by high levels of discrimination in the workplace. The polling found that:
- Over half (56%) of minority ethnic workers reported experiencing discrimination at work;
- Over a third (34%) have been passed up for promotion due to their ethnicity;
- 29% have been refused a job due to their ethnicity;
- 22% have been denied training opportunities.
Characteristics including ethnicity, age, gender and migration status intersect to make certain people even more vulnerable to low pay. The study found that almost all minority ethnic women, who face the double-jeopardy of race and gender discrimination, were more likely than men to earn below the real Living Wage.
With 4.8 million low paid jobs in the UK, the research highlights that paying workers the real Living Wage is now essential to help see millions in the multi-ethnic working class through the cost of living crisis, and close the ethnicity pay gap.
Katherine Chapman, Living Wage Foundation Director said:
“In a cost-of-living crisis that has yet to peak, this report makes clear that minority ethnic workers will be among those hit hardest by soaring costs as many are disproportionately employed in low-paid, insecure work. The cost of living crisis, like the pandemic, is exposing long-standing racial inequalities in the labour market.
Addressing poverty is impossible without challenging structural racism too. Employers who commit to paying workers the real Living Wage are not only supporting their staff through a cost of living crisis, they take the first step on a much bigger journey: towards racial equality in the UK labour market.”
 The research in this report is from quarterly Labour Force Surveys (LFS) from the years 2016-2021. Data from the LFS overstates the extent of low pay, and so has been re-weighted to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) dataset.
A LIVING WAGE MATTERS: THE ROLE OF THE LIVING WAGE IN CLOSING ETHNICITY PAY GAPS
This report explores the relationship between different minority ethnic groups and the real Living Wage, finding significant gaps between white and most minority ethnic workers when it comes to earning the real Living Wage, although the picture is not clear-cut. Overall, we conclude that paying the real Living Wage makes an important contribution that significantly benefits minority ethnic workers, who are over-represented in low paid roles.