Inquiry into racial inequality in health and social care workplaces

We have launched an inquiry into racial inequality in health and social care workplaces.  

Our call for evidence is now closed and we’d like to thank everyone who responded. We are looking at the evidence and will publish our report and recommendations later this year. You can still get in touch with us by emailing the race inquiry team.

Our action

We want to understand the experiences of ethnic minority people working on the frontline in lower-paid roles, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the evidence we find, we will make recommendations aimed at employers, governments and other agencies to improve conditions for ethnic minority workers.

What this covers

We will speak to people working in the health and adult social care sectors across England, Scotland and Wales.

We will also gather evidence from the NHS, local authorities, the Home Care Association, Social Care Wales and private sector firms that deliver care in the home and community.

We will consider how ethnic minority health and social care workers’ treatment during the pandemic has been influenced by their:

  • race
  • employment status
  • immigration status
  • working conditions

As well as learning about people’s lived experiences, we will review evidence of racial inequality in health and social care workplaces.

We know that ethnic minority groups are overrepresented in lower-paid roles in healthcare, the hospitality sector and the gig economy.

The recommendations we will make from this inquiry will provide insight for other sectors.

'Lower-paid roles' are jobs that pay £10 per hour or less (£10.85  in London).

Why we are involved

Before the pandemic, we voiced our longstanding concerns about racial inequalities across many aspects of society. The pandemic has highlighted these inequalities; we want to use our powers to identify the causes of this and to reduce any inequalities we find in the course of our inquiry.

There are likely to be a range of reasons for the unequal impact of COVID-19 on different ethnic minorities. Our inquiry will focus on the workplace factors facing frontline workers.

This is a turning point for racial inequality in Britain – now is the time for action. As well as our inquiry, we’re asking the UK Government to put a comprehensive race equality strategy in place. We are also working with the Welsh and Scottish Governments to ensure that their race equality plans deliver real change. 

Help and advice

  • the Equality Advisory and Support Service is aimed at individuals who need information, advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues and the applicable law
  • Citizens Advice England
  • Citizens Advice Wales
  • Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Acas provide specialist advice about employment issues for employees and workers
  • if you belong to a trade union, they may be able to provide advice. The TUC has a list of trade unions including those for health and social care workers
  • the Care Workers’ Charity have self-help resources for health and wellbeing and money and debt, and can give small grants
  • the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants helplines provide immigration advice to those who need it
  • Legal aid: if you’re thinking of making a claim for discrimination, you might get legal advice through legal aid. Find out about legal aid on GOV.UK
  • Mind helplines provide mental health information and support by phone and email. This includes support on Coronavirus and legal rights
  • the Samaritans Our Frontline offers frontline workers in health, emergency services, social care or any other key worker role, round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health
  • the BAME Helpline Wales provides information, referral and signposting for ethnic minority people to specialist advice, mainstream and community organisations, in a range of community languages.

Further help 

If employees have a workplace problem and require legal support or assistance they can call the independent Equality Advisory and Support Service on 0808 800 0082 or the ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100.

We cannot give legal advice. If you require counselling or further support please contact one of the support organisations below.

Last updated: 20 Apr 2021