The Equality and Human Rights Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into racial inequality of ethnic minority workers in lower-paid roles in health and social care.
The EHRC says it will examine the experiences of workers from a range of ethnic minorities employed in lower-paid roles within the health and social care sectors across England, Scotland and Wales.
It will also look at pre-existing work-related factors, such as workplace conditions, policies and training that may have contributed to their risk of COVID-19.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: ‘The pandemic has exposed racial inequality across the country.
‘We know that ethnic minority groups are over-represented in lower-paid roles and the effect of the pandemic on those working in these jobs in health and social care is a life and death issue.
‘We need to understand the structural issues which have left people from a range of ethnic minorities at greater risk.
‘This inquiry will help to answer those questions and make recommendations that can be applied to a number of other working environments where ethnic minorities are over-represented at the lowest paid levels.
‘This includes those on the frontline who have been supporting all of us through the immense challenges we have faced this year.’
Over the coming months, the EHRC will seek to understand the experiences of people working in the health and adult social care sectors. As well as looking into the institutions that commission and run these services such as the NHS, local authorities, umbrella bodies and private sector firms that deliver care in the home and community.
The EHRC said a call for evidence will be announced in the coming weeks, as well as further details about an external Advisory Panel that will help to guide the work.
The inquiry is the latest stage of the EHRC programme on race, which also includes a legal assessment on the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policies.
The EHRC said it has also repeatedly called for the government to produce a comprehensive race equality strategy to address racial inequality across all areas of life.
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