Doreen Lawrence Review: BAME employment rights and protections

Yvette Williams MBE argues for improved risk assessments, provision of PPE, and adequate sick pay to save BAME lives during the Coronavirus.

The Doreen Lawrence Review was established by Keir Starmer in April 2020 to make recommendations as to how BAME communities could be better protected from the Coronavirus.

As Yvette Williams MBE, former Head of Equality and Diversity for the Crown Prosecution Service and now cofounder of Justice 4 Grenfell, notes in her response to the Review, BAME individuals have been significantly more likely to contract and die from the Coronvirus than other groups. Over a third of Covid-19 pateints are from BAME backgrounds – nearly triple the proportion they make up in the general population. They are also less likely to receive sick pay, more likely to be in precarious employment, less likely to be able to work from home, more likely to have pre-existing health conditions that complicate their recovery from Coronavirus, and more likely to work in high-exposure occupations.

Research has already pointed to these factors as being key among the reasons BAME individuals have been harder hit by the pandemic than other groups.

In her consultation response, Yvette Williams briefly highlights the legislation that already exists to help protect people from race discrimination and asks why these laws have not been put to use. She goes on to make comprehensive recommendations for measures that will protect BAME workers during the pandemic and beyond, including the implementation of effective risk assessments, the provision of PPE and adequate sick leave arrangements, a mandatory duty to consider redeployment to lower-exposure environments, the introduction of ethnic pay gap reporting and proper enforcement measures with sanctions for employers who do not comply.