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Black British Workers Far More Likely to be Exposed to Covid-19

By Shola Adenekan


Tuesday, 15 December, 2020.


Polls shows that BME workers far more likely to have been exposed to Covid-19 

Covid-19 is taking big mental toll on BME workers 

Workers of African descent as well as and minority ethnic (BME) workers have had to self-isolate at a much higher rate than white workers, according to new  research published today.  And this is because they are more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus than those of European descent

The poll, carried out by Britain Thinks, shows that more than a third (35%) of BME workers have self-isolated during the pandemic compared to a quarter (24%) of white workers.   


Feeling unsafe at work  

The UK’s leading trade trade union TUC (Trade Union Congress), believes the research shows that BME workers are being put at greater risk of coronavirus exposure than white colleagues.   

The BritainThinks online survey was conducted between the 19th and 29th November 2020 with a sample of 2231 workers in England and Wales 

While half of white workers (49%) reported that their employer had done a Covid-Secure risk assessment for their workplace, this falls to 36% for Black workers. This is despite the risk assessment being a legal requirement.   

Higher stress levels 

Working during the pandemic continues to have a negative impact on the levels of stress and anxiety of two-fifths of BME workers (38%).  

BME workers (88%) are more likely to have concerns about returning to work than white workers (78%).   

Previous TUC analysis has shown that BME people are far more likely to be in precarious work and in jobs with higher coronavirus mortality rates than white workers, such as security guards, carers, nurses and drivers.    

Unfair treatment 

Almost a third (32%) of BME workers report having experienced three or more forms of unfair treatment compared to a quarter of white workers.  

In addition, almost a quarter (23%) of BME workers report experiencing abuse from other members of their workplace, compared to 16% of white workers. 

TUC antiracism task force  

These findings are published as the TUC’s new antiracism task force meets for the first time. It is chaired by NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach.    

The task force says it will lead the trade union movement’s renewed campaign against racism at work. It will engage with Black workers across the UK to hear about their experiences. And it will produce recommendations on tackling structural racism in the UK, in workplaces and in unions themselves.      

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that the British  government has been careless of the impact of coronavirus on BME lives.   

“BME workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus, less likely to work in Covid-Secure workplaces, and therefore more likely to be plunged into hardship if they have to self-isolate,” she said. “BME workers – and all workers – should be entitled to decent sick pay when they have to self-isolate, and to safe workplaces.   

“The government should act to rid the UK of the low wage insecure jobs that keep many BME workers in poverty and put them at higher risk from the virus. And it should set out a real commitment to ending systemic racism and discrimination.”    


Black British Workers Far More Likely to be Exposed to Covid-19

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