“TOO MANY” black and minority ethnic (BME) women are excluded from the jobs market because of their caring commitments, a new study by a federation of trade unions shows.
In its report published on Monday (23), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called for overhauling the childcare system to enable women to stay in work when they had children.
According to its analysis of official data, 12 per cent of BME women were not working due to their caring responsibilities, compared to just one per cent of men.
At every age of their career, women were more likely than men to be out of the labour market because of unpaid caring commitments, with BME women most likely to be in this position, it said.
BME women made up just seven per cent of the 16+ population but accounted for 27 per cent of those who were out of the jobs market due to caring responsibilities.
It said BME families were at higher risk of falling into poverty because of the barriers women faced to accessing the jobs market.
“Caring responsibilities shape the lives of many women as they also shoulder most of the care for older and disabled relatives too,” the TUC said and warned that the “workforce crisis in social care is making it harder for women to work alongside their caring commitments.
The research showed that BME women in their 30s were the hardest hit with 19 per cent of them currently out of the labour market because of caring responsibilities, compared to eight per cent of white women.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Women shouldn’t have to give up or cut down on paid work because they can’t find or afford the right care for their children or older or disabled relatives.
“But too many BME women who’d like to be in work are excluded from the jobs market because of their caring commitments.”
He argued that women often took a financial hit for the rest of their lives once they left paid work and this contributed to “a big number of BME households living on the poverty line.”
He called for more flexible childcare for all families that worked around shifts, weekend work and irregular working patterns to support women who wanted to work.
Paul said Labour’s new deal for working people would be transformative for women at work as “it would introduce fair pay agreements to get pay rising in social care, going some way to tackling the recruitment and retention crisis that blights the sector.”