Alan McCormack | Senior Associate

Closing the Scottish Gender Pay Gap

A recent report from the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee has concluded that the Scottish Government could make more progress in closing the gender pay gap and also boost the economy if it made greater use of its devolved powers.

According to the Scottish Government the gender pay gap in Scotland currently sits around 6%, but the Committee has expressed doubts about the accuracy of this figure. It also highlights that progress on closing the pay gap has been so slow that on current trends it will not be eradicated until 2069 – or 99 years after the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

Report Recommendations

Looking at the report’s recommendations in more detail, they suggest:

  • Developing an overarching strategy covering all areas of policy where positive steps could be made towards narrowing the pay gap.
  • Care should become a Scottish Government priority sector, acknowledging the importance of the sector to Scotland’s economy. Improving pay, conditions and the status of the child, adult and elderly care sectors would not only reduce the gender pay gap but also help recruit a more balanced workforce.
  • Scottish Government to learn from the successes of the Modern Apprenticeship programme and develop a new, appropriately resourced programme for people returning to work. It refers to the 2016 McKinsey report, which found that three out of five professional women returning to the workforce are likely to move into lower-skilled or lower-paid roles and experience an immediate earnings reduction of up to a third.
  • Scottish Government, its agencies, and the Scottish Parliament to ensure that they are following best practice principles and ensure that all roles are advertised as flexible, agile or part-time, unless there is a business reason not to do so. The Committee was told that currently UK-wide, in the region of 8% of roles that are advertised with a salary of over £20,000 per annum offer some sort of flexible working.
  • Equal pay claims still exist in Scotland, despite unequal pay on the basis of gender being illegal in the UK for over 40 years. The Committee recognises this is a contributing factor to the gender pay gap, and calls on all employers to carry out equal pay audits to ensure their pay systems do not discriminate on the grounds of gender.

Gender Pay Gap Statistics

In producing its report, the Committee took evidence from a range of external bodies, which revealed that:

  • Women have historically clustered in sectors that are traditionally low paid, and this pattern continues. However, even in higher paid sectors where women are working in near equal numbers to men, the pay gap persists. For example, in the finance sector, women hold 50% of the positions but are still concentrated in lower paying positions.
  • The largest pay gaps are found in skilled trades and management, with finance and insurance the sector with the highest pay gap, at 29.9%. This is a sector where 51% of employees are women.
  • The legal profession in Scotland has seen a dramatic change in gender balance over a short period of time, with 52% of solicitors now female. However, this has apparently not resolved the significant pay gap within the sector. Women featured more prevalently in the £15k to £45k brackets whilst men were more prevalent in the £65k to £150k brackets.

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Contains information licenced under the Scottish Parliament Copyright Licence

Alan McCormack

Alan McCormack

Employment Law Team

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