Following a report showing that people from working-class backgrounds are not treated the same as those from wealthier homes, the TUC has called for a new law to tackle class discrimination in the workplace.

The report entitled “Building working class power. How to address class inequality today” found that people from working class backgrounds earn less than those from middle class backgrounds, despite having the same qualifications and despite doing the same types of jobs.

This inequality applies even when people from working-class backgrounds have a degree - they still enter the job market earning less than those from middle-class and private-school backgrounds.

Analysis by the TUC of data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that graduates with parents in “professional and routine” jobs are more than twice as likely as working-class graduates to start on a high salary, no matter what degree level they attain.

The data also showed that a graduate from a professional background was twice as likely to be in a job earning above £30,000 per year than someone whose parents worked in a routine or semi-routine occupation. Those with parents in professional occupations were also much more likely than those from working-class backgrounds to be in a job earning above £25,000 per year.

The TUC says that without new anti-discrimination laws people from working-class backgrounds will continue to face unfair barriers at work and in society. These include direct forms of discrimination, such as employer bias during job applications and interviews. They also include indirect forms of discrimination, such as the use of unpaid internships as a gateway into jobs. 

The TUC therefore 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.


Jo Seery, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “The government had every opportunity to address the gap between rich and poor when the Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1st October 2010. Section 1 of the Act would have introduced a public sector duty to address socio-economic disadvantage by requiring public bodies to systematically and strategically address the gap between rich and poor when making policy decisions. If enacted it would have gone some way to addressing the inequalities highlighted in the TUC’s report.”

To read the report, go to: