Ethnic minority millennials more likely to be on zero-hour contracts

Young ethnic minority workers are more likely to be in unstable work, according to new research. (Getty)

Young people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to be in unstable employment, new research has found.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) millennials are 47% more likely to be on a zero-hours contract, according to the research from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal StudiesCarnegie UK Trust, and Operation Black Vote.

The study found that young ethnic minority workers are 10% more likely to have a second job, 5% more likely to be doing shift work, and are 4% less likely to have a permanent contract compared with white people of the same age.

Millennials from BAME backgrounds were also 58% more likely to be unemployed than white peers.

The researchers looked at the experiences of 25-year-olds in England from different ethnic backgrounds including people who are white, mixed-race, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Caribbean, and other minority ethnicities. The work also drew upon UCL's Next Steps study, which follows the lives of about 16,000 people in England born in 1989-90.

Young people in unstable employment also suffered from poorer mental health, according to the study.

The authors are calling on the government to take action to tackle racial inequalities in access to good work including government action on the pay gap suffered by BAME employees, as the report is launched in parliament on Monday.

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The report also calls on employers to carry out internal audits of racial inequality in pay, employment terms, and promotions. Developing guidance for mental health services on how to improve access for ethnic minority groups is an urgent priority, it said.

Douglas White from Carnegie UK Trust said: “Good work can have a really positive impact on people's wellbeing — but we need to tackle the inequalities in who has access to good quality jobs.

"This report highlights that young people from BAME communities are particularly likely to enter into precarious forms of work. We need policy and practice to recognise and respond to this to ensure that good work is available to all.”

The report found that although BAME workers on the whole had more trouble finding stable employment than their white peers, experiences in the job market varied for different ethnic groups.

Black African 25-year-olds are more likely to be doing shift work and had lower odds of being in a permanent role than their white counterparts; but mixed-race, Indian and black Caribbean millennials had similar chances of being in these types of jobs.

“This report must be a serious wake-up call for the government, industry and our mental health practitioners," said Lord Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote.

“The race penalty in the work space is further exacerbated by mental health issues. It's a double hit if you're from a BAME community. We can, however, turn this around, but we need collective leadership.”

Read more: Poor mental health costs UK employers £45bn a year

The findings come as separate research from the Parker Review Committee found 31 of 83 FTSE 100 companies have no ethnic minority representation on their boards.

Representation at board level was even lower across FTSE 250 companies, where 119 out of 173 had no ethnic diversity.