Research

UK: Black and minority ethnic workers ‘over-represented’ on zero hours contracts

The UK’s top union council, the TUC, has released a joint report with Race on the Agenda (ROTA) regarding the overrepresentation of black and minority ethnic (BME) workers on zero hour contracts. They have warned that structural racism in the labour market is trapping BME workers on low pay and insecure work. Zero hour contracts, which seem to be a particular UK issue, are where workers are 'employed' by not promised or guaranteed any hours at all by the employer.

Around one in six zero hour contract workers are BME workers. This is despite BME workers making up one in nine workers overall. BME woman are disproportionately impacted. They are almost twice as likely to be on zero hour contracts as white men and almost one and a half times more likely compared to white women.

Two in five BME workers on insecure contracts report threats of losing their shifts if they turned work down and more than half of BME insecure workers struggle to manage their household finances due to insufficient hours. This is compared to a quarter of white insecure workers who face threats of losing shifts and two in five white insecure workers who struggle to manage their household finances.

This insecure work also has an impact of the safety of their work as BME insecure workers experience disproportionately high Covid-19 mortality rates. The TUC have also found workers in insecure jobs are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those in less insecure occupations. Insecure work is also linked to higher work-related accidents and ill-health.

The TUC and ROTA are calling for a ban on zero hour contracts, for all workers to have a sight to a contract that reflects their normal hours of work, reporting obligations to detail or justify the use of exploitative work practices, and introduction of ethnic minority pay gap reporting. The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said “No matter your race or background, everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work.” Read more: TUC news releaseROTA websiteThe Guardian.  Source:  TUC Risks 1001 

Disinfectants and risk of miscarriage in nurses

Researchers from the US looked at the association of occupational exposure to high-level disinfectants (HLDs) with risk of miscarriage among nurses.  Their study included women who enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study 3 (2010–2020) and had at least one pregnancy during follow-up. Occupational exposure to HLDs was self-reported at baseline. Every 6 months, they sent participants a follow-up questionnaire asking for detailed information on pregnancies.

Of the 2579 nurses followed, the researchers documented 768 (19 per cent) cases of miscarriage in 3974 pregnancies. Compared with women with no HLD exposure, duration, frequency, and type of HLD and use of exposure controls were not associated with risk of miscarriage. However, when restricting to pregnancies that occurred within 12 months of HLD use, occupational exposure to unspecified types of HLD was significantly associated with higher risk of miscarriage.

The researchers found no associations between occupational use of HLDs and miscarriage, except when they restricted to pregnancies occurring within 12 months of assessed baseline exposure. 
Read more: Ding MLawson CJohnson C, et al Occupational exposure to high-level disinfectants and risk of miscarriage among nurses [Abstract] OEM 

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