Class Discrimination at Work

TUC calls for new laws to end class discrimination at work, but Oxbridge entrants figures show different side of story

Photo by Daniel Reche from Pexels

Class discrimination at work

TUC calls for new laws to end class discrimination at work.

Many people will have been surprised to hear TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady say at the TUC Annual Conference in Brighton that the United Kingdom needs legislation to protect people from class discrimination at work.

What class are you?

Ok! We all know about the deep-rooted British class system and the many ways there are to sublimely display your own social class and identify the class of someone else, including whether you

  • use a toilet or a lavatory,
  • are comfortable or not when presented with more than one knife and fork at dinner
  • refer to yourself as I or one.

Many people who lived through the period of Cool Britannia in the 1990’s, were convinced that all of that class stuff had been consigned to the refuse bin of history.

Divides still exist

A new report from the TUC suggests that today’s reality for job hunters is far from that nineties hope and that British businesses are missing out on talented employees as a result.

The TUC report reveals that graduates from wealthier backgrounds are more than twice as likely to be on a £30,000 starting salary than those from working-class backgrounds.

TUC wantsHeading here

As a result, the TUC wants the government to:

  • Make discrimination on the basis of class unlawful, just like race, gender and disability
  • Introduce a legal duty on public bodies to make tackling all forms of class and income inequality a priority
  • Make it compulsory for employers to report their class pay gaps

Without this new anti-discrimination laws, the TUC believes that people from working-class backgrounds will continue to face unfair barriers at work and in society.


These include both direct and indirect forms of discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination like employer bias during job applications and interviews.
  • Indirect discrimination, such as the use of unpaid internships as a gateway into jobs.

Working-class people are the reports suggests discriminated against because people who have parents who are in low paid jobs are more likely to end up in low paid jobs than people who have parents in high paid jobs.

The TUC says that the only way to redress the balance is to increase the power of trade unions so that every worker has the freedom to meet with a union representative and has the right to speak up on pay and conditions.

Oxbridge entrants

There is some evidence that the social divides in British society are being successfully addressed.

Oxford and Cambridge universities, the universities that are seen by many as the natural progression for any 18-year-old leaving public school have announced that this year 68percent of new British undergraduates are from state schools.

Both universities have come under pressure in recent years to accept more students from state schools.

Cambridge University has committed to a third of new students being from the underrepresented and disadvantaged groups in the UK by 2035.

Oxford University is reported as committing to admitting 250 students from the state education sector who will receive free tuition and accommodation.

There is a concern that both elite universities are being pressured to accept students with lower A Level grades in order to improve the diversity of their student community.

Press statements from the head teachers of some of the country’s top private schools indicate that they remain confident that their students will continue to secure places at the Oxbridge universities.

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