Gender pay gap action plan: annual report

This progress report provides an update on actions within the Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan since publication in 2019. It also sets out our future priorities for continuing to advance work on this issue across Scottish Government as part of our economic recovery and renewal.

Chapter 2 Employment

This chapter looked at what action could be taken to reduce the gender pay gap in Scotland over 2019-20 and within the current parliamentary term. Actions were developed to tackle discriminatory workplace practices that prevent women (especially those who experience multiple discrimination due to their age, race, pregnancy) from entering and/or progressing in work and that undervalue and underutilise their skills and potential which in turn is a drag on business and wider economic growth. 

The Gender Index reported that within the 'work' domain, there was most inequality in labour market inactivity due to women bearing more caring responsibilities than men. Occupational segregation also contributed to gender inequality, with more women than men concentrated in the care industries. 

Reducing the gender pay gap 

The gender pay gap in median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) between men and women working full-time in Scotland has narrowed considerably from 18.4% in 1997 to 3.0% in 2020,[7] the smallest gender pay gap since the series began.

In 2020, the gender pay gap for full-time employees working in Scotland was 3.0%, a decrease of 4.2 percentage points over the year. This decrease was mainly due to the median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for full-time women increasing at a faster rate than the median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for full-time men.

Median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for full-time men increased from £15.27 in 2019 to £15.76 in 2020 (up 3.2%) while median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for full-time women increased from £14.17 in 2019 to £15.29 in 2020 (up 7.9%). This is a welcome increase in earnings for women, especially as it is found in managerial, director and senior positions but it remains disappointing women's earnings are still behind that of men. 

The median gender pay gap for all employees, including full and part-time employees, in Scotland fell from 14.4% in 2019 to 10.9% in 2020 – lower than the UK level (15.5%). 

The median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for part-time employees also show an increase. For part-time women, the median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) were £11.08 in 2020 (an increase from £10.33 in 2019). The median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for part-time men also increased to £10.04 in 2020 (from £9.51 in 2019). Although the median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for part-time women increased and were above the earnings for part-time men, part-time employees are paid less than full-time employees on average for both men and women. This reflects the lower paid sectors and occupations where part-time work is more common, in part driven by the lower value the labour market places on part-time work. Part-time work is also dominated by women (76.0% of those in part-time employment were women[8])

Pay and employment gaps are even wider for groups of women with protected characteristics. ONS[9] data suggests that minority ethnic individuals are over-represented in jobs with increased exposure risks to COVID-19 (19.2% of workers in health and social care were from minority ethnic groups) and 14% of key workers overall (broader than just health and social care) are from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The employment rate gap between white women and minority ethnic women (20.8 p.p.) in Scotland is significantly higher than the gap between white men and minority ethnic men (4.8 p.p.). The gap for women is driven by a much lower employment rate for minority ethnic women than white women (51.7% vs 72.5%). Evidence from Close the Gap suggests women often face intersectional gender and racial barriers that hinder employment prospects and career progression. 

We recognise the importance of increasing employment rates for specific groups who are disadvantaged in the labour market, including minority ethnic communities. 

The pandemic has further exacerbated this disadvantage and widened the social and economic inequalities experienced by these communities. 

The Race Equality Framework for Scotland sets out how we will progress this over the period from 2016 to 2030 in partnership with its agencies and other key stakeholders. Our race equality employment actions aim to address the structural and institutional barriers that minority ethnic workers face. These actions will be taken forward within the context of our Fair Work policy.

We have published a Minority Ethnic Recruitment Toolkit to support employers in their recruitment of people from minority ethnic backgrounds. In the second phase of this work, we will be developing guidance on how employers can use positive action to address under representation, retention and progression of staff in their workforce. 

As part of our response to the Scottish Parliament's Equalities and Human Rights Committee's report, we are holding a public sector leadership summit on race equality in employment in March this year to support and seek a commitment from public sector leaders to tackle institutional racism. The summit will include key stakeholders representing minority ethnic communities and individuals who are able to share lived experience to inform discussions and actions following the summit. We will ensure that these stakeholders reflect the voice of minority ethnic women and who can raise awareness of the impact of the compounded discrimination they face in the employment.

The experience of women in Scotland's labour market tells us that disabled women face greater labour market barriers than non-disabled women and greater disadvantage than disabled men. However, the employment rate for disabled women has been higher than that of disabled men in recent years, which was again the case in 2019 (50.6% vs 47.0%). 

Rates of economic inactivity can help explain this. Non-disabled women are around twice as likely to be inactive than non-disabled men driven by women being much more likely to be the primary carer/homemaker than men. For disabled men and women rates of inactivity are similar. This is because 'sickness' is overwhelmingly the most common reason given for inactivity by both disabled men (75.1%) and women (60.5%).[10]

Employment law is a matter reserved to the UK Parliament and the key tools we require to adequately address the gender pay gap, such as improving transparency in pay gap reporting is out-with our powers. However, while we continue to press for additional devolved powers to strengthen employment rights that work for Scotland, we are doing all we can with the powers we do have to reduce the gender pay gap and promote and support labour market equality. 

In April 2019, we called on the UK Government to amend the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 to mandate employers to publish a gender pay gap action plan alongside their reporting obligations. The Scottish Government does not believe that the Regulations go far enough as they place no obligation on employers to take further action on the findings of their pay analysis to effect meaningful change.

The Scottish Government also called on the UK Government to review the reporting threshold of companies with over 250 staff as this failed to take account of the business base in Scotland and excluded Scotland's small to medium size enterprises and third sector organisations. In 2016 we took such an approach by lowering the reporting threshold for listed public authorities from those with more than 150 employees, to those with more than 20. These requests so far have been rejected. 

Ministers have also offered their backing to Stella Creasy MP's for her 'Equal Pay Implementation and Claims Bill' and support it's progression through the UK parliament. This bill if enacted, would improve pay transparency by giving women the 'right to know' the pay of a comparator.

Promoting the Living Wage

Tackling pay inequality is not only vital to reducing the gender pay gap but is key to increasing household income levels to tackle child poverty. Latest figures[11] show that the proportion of women earning less than the living wage in Scotland in 2020 was 16.4% (down from 19.4%), this compares with 13.8% for men (down slightly from 13.9%). The proportion of employees earning less than the living wage is highest in the Accommodation and Food Service Activities sector at 64.4% (up from 60.0%). A higher proportion of women and minority ethnic communities are employed in this sector, compared to other sectors, where part-time working and precarious hours prevail. 

The Living Wage Hospitality Steering Group continue to inform Ministers on the challenges faced during the pandemic and stress the importance of the need for the real Living Wage, particularly in an uncertain labour market. We continue to work with Living Wage Scotland to inform and support our work with employers to expand payment of the real Living Wage.

The Living Wage Scotland place-based approach continues to grow. Since Dundee was announced as the UK's first Living Wage City in March 2019, other areas such as Glenrothes, Fife and Eildon in Borders Council area followed suit achieving the Make Living Wage Place award. Edinburgh and Aberdeen have also announced their intention to work towards Living Wage City recognition.

As highlighted in the Fair Work Convention's Fair Work in Scotland's Social Care Sector 2019 report the Social Care Sector is highly gendered with women making up 83% of the workforce in 2019. In addition, given the predominance of women workers in the sector, the report also highlights that failure to address issues such as voice deficit and low pay will significantly contribute to women's poorer quality of work and Scotland's gender pay gap.[12] The Scottish Government has committed to support delivery of the real living wage for adult social care staff covering adult social care workers providing direct care and support to adults in care homes, care at home, day care and housing support. 

Fair Work First

Through the limited powers we have available, we are driving forward our flagship Fair Work First policy using our financial powers to promote fair work practice. We continue to extend the Fair Work First criteria to as many funding streams, business support grants and public contracts as we can. The criteria requires employers to take action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. 

On 29 January, we published our Fair Work First Guidance. The guidance is the product of extensive collaboration involving the Scottish Government, public and third sector partners; employers and business representatives; the STUC and affiliated trade unions; CIPD and other HR specialists and supplier networks, and has the support of the Fair Work Convention. The guidance explains the Fair Work First approach, provides good practice examples to guide employers' approaches and, importantly, explains the Fair Work benefits for workers and organisations. This includes advice and best practice on how to tackle gender pay gaps

Working with the enterprise and skills agencies, and working across the Scottish Government, we will continue to expand the range of grants, contracts and business support budgets that Fair Work First applies to. We will engage with CoSLA and the NHS to extend the criteria to local government and health and social care sectors.

We are also developing a module for board members of Public Bodies to test their knowledge on Fair Work First, highlighting that Public Bodies should demonstrate leadership in progressing not only Fair Work First, but Fair Work more generally. Implementation of Fair Work First is set out in full in the Fair Work Action Plan Annual Report. 

Delivering our Workplace Equality Fund 

Due to our limited powers Scottish Government role is in providing encouragement, advice and support to employers to improve their understanding of the gender pay gap, why it exists and how taking action to reduce it can benefit business. Evidence has shown that recruiting from a diverse pool of talent improves staff wellbeing, productivity, innovation and can alleviate costs due to absenteeism or staff turnover and reduces recruitment costs. Diversity widens a business's customer base which can also lead to a higher demand for services or products and ultimately, profits. 

Our Workplace Equality Fund originally set up in 2018 aims to address long standing and systemic issues with employer recruitment practices in the workplace. The fund supports employers to improve their diversity and inclusion strategies and support equality groups to progress in the labour market particularly in relation to addressing inequalities faced by minority ethnic people, women, disabled people and older workers. The 2019 fund supported for example AAI to deliver the Diversity Works project. AAI helped businesses to improve their recruitment practices in order to attract and retain talented Black and Minority Ethnic women. 

In November 2020 a further call for applications under the Workplace Equality fund was launched to offer immediate support to equality groups in the current COVID-19 environment and ensure that work to promote and embed workplace equality continues so that equality groups are not further disadvantaged in the labour market as a result of the effects of COVID-19.

Supporting women transitioning through menopause while at work.

The gender pay gap for all employees (including full and part-time employees) working in Scotland was highest for those aged 50-64 at 17.5%.[13] In 2019-20 our Workplace Equality Fund expanded its focus to encourage applications from projects that support women transitioning though the menopause and workers who are experiencing social isolation and loneliness (such as unpaid carers). Funding of over £800,000 was provided to 25 projects.

Case Study

Burness Paull – Funded by the Workplace Equality Fund 2019-20

Emma Smith – Burness Paull 

At Burness Paull 63% of colleagues are female and the vast majority are either experiencing symptoms of menopause or peri-menopause now or will be in the future. We wanted to remove menopause as a potential barrier to career development and support gender equality. We undertook various activities to breakdown the stigma and raise awareness of menopause including improving leadership support, reviewing existing policies, delivering employee and manager awareness raising and training sessions; establishing Menopause Champions; introducing a Menopause at Work Policy; launching a Menopause Hub on our intranet, running menopause yoga and wellbeing workshops and celebrating World Menopause Day. The result of our work means that menopause is now a workplace priority. With 96% of post-project respondents agreeing that Burness Paull is committed to raising awareness of menopause and has reduced the stigma around menopause. Nearly 75% of respondents agree that a colleague impacted by the menopause would feel supported at work and nearly 60% reporting they would now feel comfortable talking about menopause at work.

The Scottish Government continues to consider how to support women transitioning through menopause while at work informed by discussion with the STUC Women's Committee and the results of the report taken by STUC into women's workplace experiences of transitioning through menopause. 

The 2019-2020 Programme for Government announced a commitment to develop a Women's Health Plan. The 2020-2021 PfG reaffirmed this and confirmed that the Plan will underpin actions to tackle women's health inequalities by raising awareness around women's health and improving access to healthcare for women throughout life. A specific priority of the plan is to ensure that women have access to specialist menopause services for advice and support on the diagnosis and management of menopause. This includes increasing the understanding and knowledge of women, families, healthcare professionals and employers relating to menopause. The plan is expected to be published later in 2021. 

In February 2021, the Scottish Government showed leadership by publishing internal guidance for its own staff to meet our commitment to be a menopause friendly employer. This work is a core component of our wellbeing approach, encouraging staff to share experiences and signpost relevant guidance and support. 

Delivering our Women Returners Programme 

In our 2018-19 Programme for Government we committed to support women to return to work after a career break at levels commensurate with their abilities, skills and experience through our planned £5m three year Women Returners Programme. This commitment built on the success and learning from our 2017 pilot returners programme that supported women to re-enter the workplace by offering advice, guidance and access to paid work placements across a variety of industrial sectors where occupational segregation and the lack of women in senior positions was a concern. The programme has a particular focus on supporting women with other protected characteristics, for example older women, disabled women, minority ethnic women; and focus on sectors where women are significantly under-represented.

"Women Returners propelled me back into the world of work after a 4-year career break. The programme gave me the confidence and support I needed to believe in myself and the workshops that took place during the placement were key to me securing a permanent role. It was a fantastic and inclusive group that helped us to focus on our key skills and what we could deliver for the employers." 

Charlotte Darling – Women Returners to Financial Services Scotland Programme, 2018 participant

Due to the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 has had on employers and workers the programme was adapted to offer realistic support for employers in the current environment as staff are furloughed, self-isolating, working from home or subject to social distancing in workplaces that were allowed to open. Women returning to the labour market may also have faced more competition from a recently unemployed workforce with more updated experience and skills. 

The programme criteria was therefore adapted to acknowledge the challenges employers and women returners face in the COVID-19 working environment.[14] This programme is more important now than ever due to the disproportionate economic impact COVID-19 has had and will have on women. 

On 4 November 2020 we launched a short, sharp Women Returners Programme to ensure that work to promote and embed workplace equality continues in this financial year (2020-2021) so that women are not further disadvantaged in the labour market as a result of the effects of COVID-19. Successful projects commenced in January 2021 targeting sectors where women are under-represented at senior levels and have a high gender pay gap such as the finance sector. 

Successful projects include Supporting Women to Join the Scottish Aquaculture Industry, covering the Highlands and Islands, Argyll & Bute, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles areas; the Women in the Rural Economy Training Fund[15] administered by @LantraScotland and the RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity supporting Female veteran/spouse enter employment within Scotland.[16]

Refreshing the Scottish Business Pledge

We committed to refreshing the gender and diversity element of the Scottish Business Pledge to encourage actions and measures to address all aspects of diversity and inclusion, including addressing gender pay gap in business. 

A refresh of the Scottish Business Pledge was launched on 10 October 2019 with action to address the gender pay gap a core element. In order to successfully sign up to the Pledge businesses must provide appropriate evidence that demonstrates they are collating evidence to calculate their gender pay gap and that they commit to an action plan to address any identified gap over time. To assist all sizes of employers this requirement was proportionate to the size of their organisation. 

Ongoing work continues to implement the gender pay gap element on new submissions to the Scottish Business Pledge, as well as existing companies transitioning from the old structure. Due to the pandemic the deadline for transitioning has been extended to the 31 August 2021. Addressing gender pay gaps has been the single biggest challenge to businesses transitioning to the new criteria who often conflate this with their duty to ensure equal pay. To assist businesses with this element we delivered a webinar and provide Frequently Asked Questions on the Pledge website. We are also working with Close the Gap to provide support as part of our response to the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls' 2018 report recommendation to establish a Gender Beacon Collaborative.

The Gender Beacon Collaborative (the Collaborative) will bring together organisations from a range of sectors, including the Scottish Government, to implement gender equality policies and address the causes of their gender pay gaps. Private sector organisations will be supported by Close the Gap to produce and implement robust gender pay gap action plans by developing tools, materials, presentations and facilitating peer to peer learning within the Pledge Network. Public and third sector organisations will apply similar gender equality principles and methodologies but will instead work towards a gender equality accreditation programme called Equally Safe At Work (ESAW) which has been designed by Close the Gap for the needs of these sectors. The Collaborative is expected to launch later this year and will collate learning from the organisations involved to create a cross-sectoral model of best practice that will serve as a tool for future organisations. 

In April 2019 we published the report Addressing the gender pay gap: employer methods to highlight and publicise best practice examples and the benefits addressing gender pay gaps brings to business. The research provides examples of employer experience of gender pay gap reporting, current and emerging strategies to engage with the gender pay gap and the challenges & benefits of this work. 

Addressing the motherhood penalty, 

COVID-19 has affected everyone across Scotland, yet evidence has shown that the effects have not been experienced equally. Scottish Government research[17] found that adverse labour market effects ensuing from the necessary lockdown measures to protect public health could have a disproportionate longer-term impact on women, and that pregnant women and mothers' employment opportunities could be further adversely affected by any roll-back in EU-derived employment protections post Brexit. 

The Ministerial Pregnancy and Discrimination Working Group continued to highlight issues that faced pregnant women and those returning from maternity leave including looking at the design of the UK government income support schemes that did not take account of equalities issues. 

A number of issues were raised regarding how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-employment Income support Scheme (SEISS) were applied to pregnant women and those who had taken maternity leave in the year prior to the introduction of the schemes. 

As pregnancy and Maternity pay and employment rights are a matter reserved to the UK Government, Scottish Ministers called on the UK Government throughout 2020 to address the issues inherent in the schemes, stressing the CJRS scheme should support vulnerable individuals such as women in low income roles and those on insecure contracts. Concerns were raised that CJRS may have been used inappropriately by employers in their dealings with pregnant employees such as its inability to allow part-time furlough and to allow parents to be able to be furloughed if they had caring responsibilities, as well as for periods of self-isolation and shielding. The SEISS was also criticised for failing to support women who had been on maternity leave during the qualifying period resulting in them receiving lower awards than others not on such leave. 

We acknowledged the changes introduced on 1 July 2020 to expand the CJRS to allow employers to furlough workers flexibly and that it was further amended on 5 January 2021 to expressly include childcare as a furlough condition. Eligibility for SEISS was also amended to widen the qualifying period however this did not go far enough to support the range of self-employed women's individuals circumstances.

In October 2020, the Scottish Government introduced the Self-Isolation Support Grant. This provides a grant of £500 to those in receipt of low income benefits and who have been asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect. Eligibility to the scheme was expanded on 7 December 2020 to include parents on low incomes who have to self-isolate because their children have to self-isolate; who are unable to work from home and lose income as a result of this self-isolation. 

To help us understand the barriers that mothers face when returning to work we committed to fund research on the career trajectories of mothers returning to work based on longitudinal data from the Understanding Society survey. 

This research Understanding Society – Gender and Work in Scotland: research finding was published on the 19 December 2019. This analyses data from Understanding Society on mothers returning to work and gender roles and attitudes.

Glasgow City Building employee

"Flexibility is an indicator of a progressive employer. One who appreciates their workforce and their importance in a good work life balance. As an employee I feel valued and return that in my commitment to the company in a way we can both benefit."

Promoting flexible working

Flexible working is crucially important to women who have caring responsibilities, whether that be childcare, adult or kinship care. Women are still regarded as the primary carers in households and the ability to access good quality flexible work not only allows them to manage their care commitments but enables them to continue to participate and progress in work. We have met our commitment to funding Family Friendly Working Scotland (FFWS) in 2019-20, proving them with £159,000 of funding. 

FFWS provided business support and training to organisations to introduce or further develop their flexible working offer to employees, encouraging employers to advertise new roles as flexible, delivering events to explore and celebrate good practice in flexible working, engaging with the media on issues around flexible working and inputting into relevant Scottish Government policy as appropriate. This work supported people, particularly parents, to access good quality flexible employment that was right for their circumstances specifically through engagement with employers to introduce or further develop their flexible working offer.

In 2020-21 we continued to support flexible working and together with the Hunter Foundation through our Social Innovation Partnership, we supported a new Scottish social enterprise, Flexibility Works, by funding £175,000 to support and promote the development of flexible and family friendly workplaces. This funding includes offering vital advice and support to business and organisations on flexible working to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. In particular, Flexibility Works will support employers from low-income sectors to better understand what it takes to promote and embed flexible working within their organisations, with a view to opening up new opportunities for staff and improving their wellbeing. 

As committed in the Child Poverty Action Plan, in 2019 we commissioned Timewise to undertake a feasibility study into a new centre for flexible work. This initiative was to investigate how increasing the availability of flexible working would assist priority groups such as low income parents, carers and parents with disabled children, as well as older workers, and those with health issues to access well paid, secure work rather than their options being limited to part time work in traditionally low paid sectors to accommodate their needs and commitments.

This study completed an analysis and consultation on the feasibility exercise found that the project should be less focussed on sectors and more on flexible hiring. This meant not creating a 'What Works Centre' but a 'What Works Network' with focus on building capabilities into the networks that currently exist. The proposal, agreed in July 2020 following amendments to reflect the impacts of coronavirus, aligns with the Scottish Government ambitions of Fair Work and assists the priority child poverty family groups. Over £130,000 of funding will be provided in 2020-21 to support delivery of this important piece of work.

TimeWise have been delivering high quality support to help 300 employers adapt to flexible working through COVID 19 and beyond. Timewise have also supported the recruitment of 40 employer-facing employability advisors who will help a further 1,000 employers and 1,000 individuals to implement and benefit from fair and flexible work opportunities. Priority groups will access support from 'fair flex' trained advisors which will ultimately reduce the inequalities they experience on a daily basis. 

Timewise will also undertake analysis to track the state of the flexible vacancy market pre, during and post COVID-19. The Index is a unique report that was originally published in Scotland in 2018 and is published across the UK every year and used as a national benchmark. This year will be a unique period within which to monitor the flexible vacancy market in Scotland, to inform employers and policy makers where more action is needed regionally and in what sectors.

ILF Scotland 

As a small organisation, we need to recruit and retain the best talent and in return we're rewarded by highly competent, highly motivated and high-performing individuals who give their all when they're on our time. We get their best and they get the best balance for them so it is a win-win situation for everyone.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown measures, the Scottish Government published statutory working from home guidance to support employers, employees and the self-employed with the continuation of working from home. 

We ensured key equality stakeholders informed the development of the guidance with a strong focus on gender. It provides advice to employers on how to consider and support the needs of people with protected characteristics including pregnant women. 

Going forward we will continue to promote flexible working practices that support employers and workers during and post pandemic. In response to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery Report we will ensure that women's equality and the role of flexible working is central in developing the new Centre For Workplace Transformation.

Tackling Sexual harassment 

We continue to work to tackle sexual harassment both in the workplace and in wider society. Throughout 2019-20 we have worked to deliver the action points within the Equally Safe Delivery Plan to prevent and eradicate sexual harassment. 

We have developed a pilot Equally Safe employer accreditation programme in order to lever better employment practice in tackling gender-based violence experienced by the workforce. Led by Close the Gap, the Equally Safe at Work project is working with seven local authorities to incorporate gender equality into their internal policies, from leadership to data collection, tackling occupational segregation to improving workplace culture. In recognition of the significant pressures on councils during COVID-19, Close the Gap took a flexible approach to the deadline for the final evidence submission, which was extended until November 2020. 

Four councils will receive bronze accreditation in March 2021. The four councils demonstrated that they met all the criteria for each of the six framework standards by undertaking a variety of activities to address the causes of gender inequality in their council and to better support survivors. Activities included: developing an employment policy on violence against women; developing initiatives to address occupational segregation; and developing new, and improving existing, data gathering systems on employee experiences of violence against women, and other aspects of gender inequality. 

All seven councils will receive 'pilot accreditation' to recognise the work they have undertaken in the pilot, and their important role in in gathering key learning on local government employment practice that will shape the future development of the programme. We have commissioned Scottish Women's Aid to develop a framework of training on gender inequality and its links to violence against women and girls for public services which is one of the most difficult areas to achieve. This training programme, Equally Safe in Practice, is to support authorities to address this in the future. 

The Scottish Government has committed to lead by example and, along with the public and third sector organisations, are working to achieve initially the Equally Safe At Work Bronze Accreditation. 

Domestic abuse and employment law

Perpetrators of domestic violence can exacerbate women's barriers to participate equally in the labour market by preventing women from attending work and discouraging women from applying for promotion or positions where they would become the primary earner in the household. Similarly they can prevent women from attaining further education or learning opportunities that would further their professional development and career. 

In October 2020 we supported BEIS in organising a roundtable of Scottish stakeholders to discuss the BEIS Domestic Abuse Review following their consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. This sought to gather views on the issues which domestic abuse raise in relation to work and the workplace, what support can be offered by employers and whether existing employment rights adequately address situations or issues raised by domestic abuse. 

In August 2020 we launched the Domestic Abuse Awareness Raising Tool an online resource to improve understanding of domestic abuse. It is freely available and forms part of a wider programme of accessible resources to improve the capacity of public service staff in Scotland to recognise and safely respond to survivors of domestic abuse.

The resource reflects real experiences of women, children, men, LGBT people and the BME community. It also includes case studies that show tactics perpetrators use to manipulate victims and responders, as well as the impact of domestic abuse and coercive control on the whole family. It is intended that the resource will provide a basic introduction and can be supplemented by further specialist training.

In April 2019 the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills called on the UK Government to improve legislation to protect women subject to sexual harassment at work or who are vulnerable to redundancy due to pregnancy or maternity. 

Going forward we will continue to communicate with the UK Government with the aim of influencing the development of the new Employment Bill. We will urge them to accept our recommendations in response to the good work plan consultations. Strengthening and enforcement of protection to women (including pregnant women) and carers against discrimination and dismissal; strengthen paternity/partner leave rights and introduce the right for all employees to request flexible working from day one of employment. 

Actions going forward 2021-2022

In addition to taking forward the work we have started above. We will also take forward the actions below 

  • We will continue to deliver our Workplace Equality Fund in 2021-22.
  • We will continue with our commitment to deliver a Women Returners Programme in 2021-22.
  • New – We will launch the Gender Beacon Collaborative to provide support to organisations from a range of sectors to implement gender equality policies and address the causes of their gender pay gaps.
  • New – We will support employers to adopt Flexible Working practices in Scotland including working from home during and post pandemic.
  • New – we will influence the development of the new Employment Bill urging the UK Government to increase protection for women experiencing harassment at work and discrimination due to pregnancy/maternity, calling on them to enhance parental leave and pay.
  • New – In response to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery Report ensure that workplace equality including women's equality is central in developing the new Centre For Workplace Transformation.



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