ENAR Press Release: What a surprise! No equal opportunities in jobs for ethnic and religious minorities in Europe

Brussels, 17 March 2014 – For Black people, Roma, Muslims, migrants from non-EU countries, and women with a minority or migrant background living in Europe, discrimination is a major obstacle when looking for a job. Even once in employment, things don’t get better. This is the conclusion of ENAR’s 2012/13 Shadow Report on racism and discrimination in employment in Europe, released ahead of International Day Against Racial Discrimination.


The economic crisis has worsened discrimination against minorities and migrants and increased the employment gap between ethnic minorities and the majority population. In Finland and Belgium, unemployment rates are three times higher for people born outside the EU than for the native-born population. African migrants in Spain are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to people from the majority population.


Discrimination at the stage of recruitment manifests itself for instance when the selection is on the basis of names and addresses or in discriminatory practices of recruitment agencies. In the United Kingdom, people with foreign sounding names are a third less likely to be shortlisted for jobs than people with white British sounding names. In the Netherlands, more than half of recruitment agencies complied with a request not to introduce Moroccan, Turkish or Surinamese candidates.


Even once they are in a job, ethnic and religious minorities continue to face unequal treatment. Lower wages, glass ceiling, precarious and difficult working conditions, harassment and abusive dismissal are just some of the manifestations. In Hungary for instance, wages paid to Roma are lower than the Hungarian minimum wage. In Poland, migrant workers are often forced to work overtime under the threat of dismissal.


These discriminatory practices occur despite the existence of EU legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment. The report highlights that these laws are not always as efficient as they should be. There are also numerous obstacles to bringing cases to court, including the difficulty to prove discrimination, a lack of trust in the judicial system, lack of awareness of legal protections, and the length and cost of proceedings. Although efforts are being made by institutions and organisations - including trade unions and employers - to tackle this reality, they are few and far between.


ENAR Chair Sarah Isal said: “It is worrying to see the lack of political will to tackle discrimination in employment when we see how pervasive and widespread it is across Europe. It’s time politicians take this issue seriously, especially as access to quality work will be a high priority among voters - including members of minorities - for the upcoming European elections. They should realise that discriminating and excluding individuals from jobs results in a huge waste of talents and skills, of human and financial resources, and ultimately affects progress and the well-being of all people living in Europe.”


For further information, contact:

Georgina Siklossy, Communication and Press Officer

Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 - Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531 - Email: georgina@enar-eu.org - Web: www.enar-eu.org


Notes to the editor:

  1. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR aisbl) stands up against racism and discrimination and advocates for equality and solidarity for all in Europe. We connect local and national anti-racist NGOs throughout Europe and voice the concerns of ethnic and religious minorities in European and national policy debates.
  2. ENAR’s Shadow Report on racism and discrimination in employment in Europe draws on 23 national Shadow Reports (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom). The European and national reports are available here: http://www.enar-eu.org/Page_Generale.asp?DocID=15294&langue=EN
  3. See also our fact sheet of key findings on racism and discrimination in employment in Europe.
  4. On 21 March 1960, 69 Black demonstrators were killed at a peaceful protest against apartheid laws in South Africa. As a result, 21<sup> </sup>March was declared "International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” by the UN in 1966.
AnhangGröße
EUshadowReport2013_final.pdf2.28 MB

ENAR Shadow Report 2012/13 on racism in Europe: Key findings on racism and discrimination in employment

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) 2012/13 Shadow Report on racism and discrimination in Europe focuses on employment, and assesses how discrimination affects ethnic and religious minorities as well as migrants in accessing the labour market and in the workplace. The findings are based on data and information from ENAR’s national Shadow Reports from 23 European countries. Five groups are identified as being most vulnerable to discrimination in employment: migrants from non-EU Member States; Roma; Muslims; people of African descent and Black Europeans; and women with a minority or migrant background. Despite the existence of a legal framework, discrimination in employment is still experienced as a widespread phenomenon.


Manifestations of racism and discrimination in employment


  • The economic and financial crisis, and the lack of social investment, have worsened the employment gap between migrants, ethnic and religious minorities and the majority population.
  • In Finland and Belgium, unemployment rates are three times higher for people born outside the EU than for the native-born population.
  • African migrants in Spain are twice as likely to be unemployed as people from the majority population.
  • In the Netherlands, Moroccans have the highest unemployment rates.
  • A study by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency shows that among eleven Member States, one out of three Roma respondents reported that they were unemployed.



  • Discrimination affecting migrants and minorities place them at disadvantage already when they attempt to access the labour market.
  • In Hungary, 64% of migrant respondents to a survey admitted having experienced discrimination when looking for a job.
  • Migrants in Germany are less likely to find employment than Germans with the same level of education but without a migrant status or background.
  • In the United Kingdom, people with foreign sounding names are a third less likely to be shortlisted for jobs than people with white British sounding names.
  • In France, applicants who live in socially disadvantaged areas, e.g. poorer suburbs of Paris or Lyon, face discrimination.
  • In the Netherlands, 57% of recruitment agencies complied with a request not to introduce Moroccan, Turkish or Surinamese candidates.
  • In Spain, a young Muslim woman who finished her university studies in pharmacology with the second best grade could not find a job for three years because she did not want to take off her veil.



  • Even once are in a job, migrants and minorities continue to face unequal treatment: lower wages, a lack of career prospects, precarious and difficult working conditions, harassment, abusive dismissal, are just some of the manifestations.
  • In Hungary, wages paid to Roma are lower than the Hungarian minimum wage.
  • In Austria, people with a Turkish background earn 20% less that their Austrian colleagues without a migrant background.
  • In Italy, 34% of foreigners are employed as unskilled workers compared with 8% of the majority population.
  • In the Czech Republic, respondents to a survey stated that they had been denied promotion with the explanation “that it is not yet time for a black person to work in a management position”.
  • A Polish study on threatening dismissal practices concluded that in many cases migrant workers are forced to work overtime under the threat of dismissal.



  • The European Union has adopted laws to combat discrimination in employment which are now part of EU Member States’ national laws, but there remain a number of gaps in implementation and protection mechanisms. These include:
  • The difficulty to prove discrimination;
  • A lack of trust in the judicial system;
  • A lack of awareness of legal provisions;
  • The length and cost of proceedings;
  • Fear of re-victimisation.

Selected recommendations

  • Labour market indicators (employment and unemployment rates) are not enough to know how many people experience discrimination on the grounds of their racial or ethnic origin and religion/belief. EU institutions and Member States should therefor adopt a common framework for the collection and analysis of reliable and comparable disaggregated equality data to fight discrimination in employment.
  • EU institutions should develop guidelines for employers to accommodate religious and cultural diversity in the workplace.
  • EU institutions and Member States should ensure that labour market regulations respect the “equal status and equal pay for equal work” principle and that all workers (EU Member State nationals, EU migrants and non-EU migrants) enjoy equal treatment.
  • Common EU standards on labour inspection should be established, geared towards detecting discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin and religion/belief.

To read the full report, visit www.enar-eu.org/Page_Generale.asp?DocID=15294&langue=EN