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Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have indicated that Bangladeshi workers earned 20.2 per cent less per hour than their White British colleagues in 2018.

These statistics, which were gathered through the use of Annual Population Survey data, show that wage gaps amongst ethnic minority groups remain significant. They highlight that that the median hourly wage for a worker from Bangladesh was almost £3 less than that of a White British counterpart in 2018, whilst workers who are black and African Caribbean received hourly pay that was 9.2 per cent less. In contrast, workers from Chinese and Indian ethnicities took home the most per hour, earning £15.75 and £13.47 respectively.

In response, TUC Secretary Frances O’Grady has called for ‘bold action’ from the government to ‘confront inequality and racism’, which includes introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. Speaking on the issue, she outlines that ‘race still plays a real role in determining pay’ and that ‘far too many black and minority ethnic workers are stuck in insecure and temporary work.’ Jamie Mackenzie, Sodexo Exchange director, adds that organisations need to be incentivised to narrow pay gaps, stating that ‘if businesses are not feeling the pressure to improve practices, then it will all be for nothing.’

Although organisations have previously been encouraged to produce voluntary ethnicity pay gap reports by the government and campaigners such as INvolve, it still remains unclear when this will become a legal requirement. Between October 2018 and January 2019, the government undertook a consultation on this issue, which examined whether it should be mandatory for organisations to produce such reports, what information they should include and how the data would be collected. Whilst legislation is currently expected to follow at some point in 2019, the government has yet to officially announce what form this will take and, in particular, what the thresholds for reporting will be.

With a legal requirement to produce such a report looming, organisations should be mindful of any instances of bias that could be creeping into their recruitment and promotion processes. If race is playing a big role in determining pay, it is advisable that they take proactive steps to counteract this, such as providing anti-bias training for managers and offering training opportunities to all employees, regardless of their ethnic minority. Organisations could also set themselves internal targets to improve diversity in their organisations, which could also help to tackle other equal opportunity related issues such as the gender pay gap.

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