The Midlothian MP was speaking after attending a Unison campaign event on Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting which took place in the UK Parliament.
A Unison survey of NHS staff found that there were key differences between staff in Groups 1 and 2 who identified as black and those who identified as belonging to white groups, with a fifth of black respondents having used payday loans vs. 9% of white respondents. . Additionally, research from the Resolution Foundation estimates that the ethnic pay gap cost 1.9million black workers £3.2billion in lost wages in 2018.
He said: “We still have a long way to go for fair pay, but an important step is to tackle the ethnic pay gap. No one should struggle with poverty wages and we know that BAME workers are more at risk, with a wage gap between BAME workers and other groups. To combat this inequality, it must be better measured and understood.
“Like the gender pay gap, we need to get the facts on the ethnic pay gap together to raise awareness and begin to address the issue. With the mechanisms already in place, measuring this pay gap should be a step relatively straightforward, so the UK Government’s lack of progress is baffling.The Women and Equality Committee has already done much of its homework – it published a report in February which provided evidence of the need to point out ethnic pay gaps and how any challenges could be addressed.
Mr Thompson called for more progress from the UK government in introducing the legislation needed to measure progress in tackling the gap, similar to that which is already in place for the gender pay gap. He is also writing to Midlothian Council asking them to consider adopting ethnic pay gap reporting locally.
He added: “I support the campaign led by Unison and call on the UK government to move forward, but I urge Midlothian Council not to wait. They may consider adopting the gap report local ethnic pay now.I will write to the new SNP led council to see if they will consider this option.