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Scotland takes action on gender pay gap

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Scotland, action plan, gender pay gap, Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, Nicola Sturgeon, 50 actions, A historic landmark in our march to achieving gender equality and closing the gender pay gap.”

Steps to tackle gender discrimination and inequalities in the workplace were set out earlier this month with the release of the Scottish Government’s first Gender Pay Gap Action Plan.

The gender pay gap in Scotland for full-time employees has decreased from 6.6 per cent in 2017, to 5.7 per cent in 2018.

This Plan aims to help the Scottish Government meet its commitment of reducing the gender pay gap by 2021.

There are over 50 ‘actions’, including:

Supporting 2,000 women to return to work after a career break through the new Women Returners Programme worth £5 million over three years, building on the success of a pilot project run since 2017;

Improving workplace practices, including support for women during menopause and for victims of domestic abuse, through the expansion of the Workplace Equality Fund;

Delivering a new careers strategy by autumn 2019 to provide advice and accessible guidance which will help to challenge stereotypes;

Refreshing the gender and diversity element of the Scottish Business Pledge;

Showing leadership as an employer by undertaking a Scottish Government Equal Pay Audit as well as researching the ways businesses can reduce their gender pay gaps;

Urging the UK government to strengthen and enforce the protection of women and carers against discrimination and dismissal – including strengthening paternity leave rights and introducing ‘safe leave’ which would provide victims of domestic violence with additional leave;

Promoting gender equality within early learning and child care, schools, colleges, universities and within employment support and the social security system; and

Commissioning a feasibility study for a ‘What Works Centre for Flexible Work’ to design, test and embed new approaches to increasing the availability of flexible working – in particularly for low income parents.

Unequal pay is illegal under the Equal Pay Act of 1970. However, the information reported by large firms confirms what women’s rights groups have argued for years – that women receive less in pay from work due to lower rates of promotion, being more likely to be employed only part time often due to family and caring commitments, and being employed at lower levels in companies and industries.

The Gender Equality Act 2010 Regulations 2017 require large private and third sector groups to report information on mean and median gender pay gap figures, the proportion of men and women workers in different pay grades and inequality in bonus payments.

Some of their findings from last year’s report and the 27 per cent of firms who have reported so far this year include:

Last year 78 per cent of large firms admitted they paid men more;

The average pay gap reported so far is 9.1 per cent;

EasyJet has among the worst pay gaps, at 47.9 per cent, up from 45.5 per cent last year;

The banking sector has many of the widest pay gaps; Barclays Investment Bank, Lloyds Bank, Clydesdale, RBS and Lloyds Banking Group all filed gaps above 30 per cent;

In Scottish firms, pay gaps climbed as high as 60 per cent in last years figures, while gaps in bonuses reached 607 per cent; and

Only 5 per cent of Scottish firms established targets to close the gap.

And 42 per cent of the firms which have so far reported have exposed wider pay gaps than last year.

Depressingly, these are from firms which reported early and are thought by campaigners to be more likely to take the issue of unequal pay more seriously.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan at Business Gateway’s Women in Business event in Edinburgh to mark International Women’s Day.

She said: “The package of measures set out in Scotland’s first Gender Pay Gap Action Plan are a historic landmark in our march to achieving gender equality and closing the gender pay gap.

“While the gender pay gap in Scotland is now the lowest on record and lower than the UK as a whole we still have much progress to make, which requires long term solutions not short term fixes.

“Our plan sets out a whole system approach across public, private and third sectors and looks at breaking down the cause of the gender pay gap throughout a young girl’s life – from challenging gender stereotyping in early years learning and schools to supporting employers to adopt inclusive and flexible workplace practices to help mothers return to work after a career break.

“This plan is not just about supporting girls and women to participate equally in our labour market.  It is also about promoting and installing fair work principles and setting out the benefits these can bring to all individuals, employers and the Scottish economy.”

To read the full plan, click here.

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