International mechanisms to revalue women's work: research

The report reviews different approaches to redress the undervaluation of women’s work and assesses their applicability to the Scottish employment context. The report finds that undervaluation of women’s work is a driver of the gender pay gap and makes recommendations to alleviate this disparity.

Appendix 1 – Case Study 7 – Japan: Legislation Comparing Regular and Non-Regular Workers

The current GPG in Japan is falling but remained high at 23.5% in 2019[104], with collective bargaining coverage low at 16.8% in 2018[105]. Labour market participation for women is low (53.3%) compared to men (71.4%)[106]. Occupational segregation is common with only 15% of senior leadership positions held by women, while women’s income is around half of that of men[107]. Women are over-represented in non-regular (non-standard) employment, often as part-time workers or on fixed term contracts. This case study follows the strategy of Japan to use legislation to address pay inequality between those in permanent, open-ended work and non-standard workers. While this is not an initiative to address gender discrimination per se, it has scope to address the GPG indirectly, as women are predominatly located in non-regular or non-standard work. Due to the short time span since introduction, there is as of yet little evaluation of its effectiveness.


In Japan equal pay for equal work between men and women was established in The Labour Standards Law 1947, Article 4. However, in Japan there is no concept of equal value and it is rare for courts to apply job evaluation to address the gender pay issue or gender pay cases. In 2018 the ‘Act on Arrangement of Relevant Acts for Promotion of Work Style Reform’ for the private sector was passed by the Japanese government and came into force in April 2020. The purpose of this Act is to address pay disparity between regular workers (full-time and permanent contracts with a direct relationship between employer and employee) and non-regular employees. The Ministry of Labour produced guidelines to assess the gaps between regular and non-regular workers, but it is not mandatory to use these guidelines or to conduct a job evaluation. This Act is not about equal pay between men and women, but it is hoped that through assessing pay disparities between regular and non-regular work more comprehensive and transparent processes for wage determination will be created, which will help reduce gender pay disparity. The dominant framing by the Government is about addressing productivity, the balance between the number of regular and non-regular workers, the low birth rate and ageing society[108]. The enforcement of the Act is at individual level, where the worker initiates a negotiation to correct the GPG.


It is too early to ascertain whether the new Act has indirectly reduced the GPG as little time has passed since its introduction and GPG reporting is not mandatory in Japan. There is potential, however, for women’s work to be revalued under this system where women are over-represented in non-regular work. Enforcement is lacking, however, relying on individuals to take cases when gaps are noted.


There is scope for the SG to replicate aspects of the Work Style Reform Act under the Scottish Specific Duties Regulations 2012. The current Specific Duties in Scotland mandate organisations pay due regard to equality. Given in Scotland many minority groups are over-represented in non-regular or non-standard work, there could be a provision for assessing and eliminating pay gaps through job evaluation between regular and non-regular workers in the public sector.



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