The Midlothian MP spoke after attending a Unison campaign event on reporting on the ethnic pay gap which took place in the UK Parliament.
A Unison survey of NHS staff found that there were key differences between Band 1 and Band 2 staff who identified as Black and those who identified as White, with a fifth of Black respondents using payday loans compared to nine percent of white respondents. . Furthermore, research by the Resolution Foundation estimates that the ethnic pay gap cost 1.9 million black workers £3.2 billion in lost wages in 2018.
He said: “We have a long way to go on fair wages, but one important step is to address the ethnic wage gap. No one should be struggling on poverty wages and we know that BAME workers are most at risk, with a discrepancy in pay between BAME workers and other groups. To address this inequality, it needs to be measured and better understood.
“As with the gender pay gap, we need to collect data on the ethnic pay gap to raise awareness and start to fix the problem. With mechanisms already in place, measuring this pay gap should be a relatively simple step, so the lack of progress by the UK government is puzzling. The Women and Equality Committee has already done much of its homework: they published a report in February that provided evidence of the need to report on the ethnic pay gap and how the challenges could be addressed.
Mr Thompson has called for further progress by the UK government to bring forward the necessary legislation to measure progress in tackling this discrepancy, similar to that which already exists for the gender pay gap. He is also writing to Midlothian Council to ask that they consider adopting reports on the ethnic pay gap at the local level.
He added: “I support the campaign led by Unison and call on the UK government to take this forward, but I urge Midlothian Council not to wait. They might consider adopting local reports on the ethnic pay gap now. I will write to the new SNP took the council to see if they will investigate this option.”