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UK government urged to pass law against class discrimination

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
The government faces calls to introduce 'class pay gap' reporting. Photo: PA

The UK government should pass a law against class discrimination at work, according to a trade union body.

A new report calls for discrimination on the basis of class to be treated the same way as discrimination based on gender, ethnicity or disability.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) also says employers should be forced to report on their “class pay gaps,” and public bodies need a legal duty to tackle class and income inequality.

Analysis by the TUC suggests graduates whose parents are professionals are more than twice as likely to be paid at least £30,000 in their first jobs after university, regardless of their degree levels.

The TUC says discrimination can be direct or indirect, from bias during interviews to using unpaid internships that better-off candidates can more easily afford to take.

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The TUC steers clear of offering a definition of class, admitting there are “contested definitions” but highlighting official statistical categories based on types of work as well as cultural factors.

Its latest report, published to coincide with the TUC’s annual congress in Brighton, says class-based discrimination is still “prevalent” in the workplace in Britain.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, at the TUC's congress in Brighton. Photo: PA

It says a pattern of working-class people facing poor pay, long hours and discrimination is “all too common.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was “high time” such discrimination was banned.

“Let’s have a new duty on employers to stamp out class prejudice once and for all.

“If you’re from a working-class family, the odds are still stacked against you. Everyone knows that getting that dream job is too often a case of who you know, not what you know.”