New perspectives on the gender pay gap: trends and drivers

This report explains the different measures of the gender pay gap and considers how it has been changing over time. It also considers underlying drivers and describes Scottish Government policy intended to help encourage the decline of the pay gap.

10. Scottish Government Policies are Helping Accelerate the Long Term Decline of the Pay Gap

Scotland's pay gap is declining over the long term and the Scottish Government has a comprehensive range of policies intended to help accelerate this decline where possible, for example through:

Affordable early learning and childcare

The Scottish Government is committed to increasing and improving high quality, flexible early learning and childcare which is accessible and affordable for all, prioritising those most in need in the first instance. Since August 2014:

  • the hours of early learning and childcare have increased from 475 to 600 per year for all 3 and 4 year olds; and, local authorities have started to improve the flexibility and range of options for how those hours are accessed.
  • the entitlement to 600 hours has been extended to those 2 year olds who will benefit the most, this includes those who are or have been at any point since their second birthday looked after, subject to a kinship care or guardianship order; as well as those who are disadvantaged as a result of parents having no sustainable employment and living in poverty (15%). From August 2015 this increased to 27% of 2 year olds, and includes children from low income families.

The First Minister has pledged in the Programme for Government to increase early learning and childcare provision, from 600 to 1,140 hours a year, by the end of this parliament. Planning for this is underway.

Tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination

The Scottish Government is working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC) to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination, as highlighted in EHRC and Business Innovation and Skills ( BIS) research published in July 2015 [16] . On 25 th February 2016 the previous Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham, announced a series of measures to show the Scottish Government's commitment to addressing this issue. Measures include a working group to create guidelines for employers to ensure best practice on monitoring and reporting on pregnancy and maternity.

Greater Gender Diversity on Scotland's Public, Private and Third Sector Boards

For the first time, more women than men were appointed by Ministers to the boards of regulated public bodies in 2015. Women represent 54% of those appointed to boards and 41% of applicants were women, an increase of 15 and 10 percentage points respectively versus 2012, and a leap of 7% in female appointees in a single year.

The Scottish Government's Partnership for Change was launched on 25 June 2015, inviting public bodies, third sector organisations and companies from across Scotland to make a voluntary commitment to improve the diversity of their board and work towards 50/50 gender balance by 2020. The Partnership currently has 179 signatories (as of 19 May 2016).

The Scottish Government has committed to bring forward legislation requiring gender balance on the boards of public bodies in Scotland in the first year of the new Parliament.

Of the 73 regulated bodies, over half (41) are either gender balanced; as balanced as is possible, if the board comprises an odd number of members; or comprise more women than men. This compares to 31 bodies a year ago.

Skills and Learning

Women represented over 51% of college enrolments in 2014/15. The number of women studying full-time courses is up by 16% since 2006/07.

The Scottish Government is committed to working in partnership with Scottish Funding Council, colleges and universities and others to address the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and maths ( STEM) subject courses.

We are investing up to a total of £1.5 million over the next three academic years, through Scottish Funding Council, in a programme of equality projects across Scottish colleges and universities.

Colleges are taking further steps to counter gender imbalances - City of Glasgow College has a HNC Engineering course specifically targeted at women and West Lothian College recently launched (Feb 2016) an innovative 16 week fast track course designed to give women an opportunity to work in STEM areas.

We are also funding campaigns like #ThisAyrshireGirlCan to help girls to see the opportunities that a STEM career can bring.

SFC's Gender Action Plan Interim report [17] (published 22 Feb 2016) addresses a key recommendation of the Commission for Developing the Young Workforce and allows us to see the progress made so far and what more needs to be done.

Women in Enterprise

The Women in Enterprise Action Framework and Ambassadors role-model project were launched on 04 March 2014 and received strong buy-in from partners across the public, private and third sectors. The Action Framework is being led by our key partner Women's Enterprise Scotland ( WES) which is working with partners from all sectors to deliver actions.

We supported WES with £47,000 in 2015/16 to deliver the Ambassadors project. In addition, £45,000 of support was also made available for the Investing Women initiative, designed to help female entrepreneurs to become investment-ready. Consideration is currently being given to providing WES with £60,000 for 2016/17 to continue the Ambassadors project and £50,000 to Investing Women for the continuance of its Catalyst Programme.

A refresh of the Action Framework, due to be published at the end of summer 2016, is currently being undertaken by partners to identify priority areas of action and how best these actions can be collaboratively supported. To encourage collaboration across the 'Women in Enterprise Implementation Group', the SG announced to the group it would financially support (in 2016/17) a project where partners collaborate to deliver quantifiable impact.

Female self-employment has increased over recent years from 84,000 in the year ending December 2010 to 101,900 in the year ending December 2015, a rise of 21.3% [18] .

Family Friendly and Flexible Working

The Scottish Government is committed to working with employers directly and through their representative bodies, to explore ways of promoting and supporting flexible working.

The Scottish Government is a partner in - and funds - the Family Friendly Working Scotland Partnership. Through this Partnership, established in 2014, we work with Working Families (a leading UK work-life balance organisation), Parenting Across Scotland and Fathers Network Scotland to support and promote the development of family-friendly workplaces across Scotland.

The Family Friendly Working Scotland Partnership aims to ensure that high quality flexible working opportunities are available, which will be of particular benefit to women, including those returning to the workforce after periods of maternity or other caring leave.

In addition, we support family friendly and flexible working for all, including men, and particularly fathers. This is part of a wider aim to ensure equality at home and at work.

The Scottish Government has awarded £178,700 to the Family Friendly Working Scotland Partnership for 2016-17, continuing our commitment to this policy.

STEM/Occupational Segregation

The Scottish Government is providing funding of £200,666 per year to Equate Scotland to support the recruitment, retention, return and success of women studying and working in Science Engineering Technology and the built environment. Through Equate Scotland, we are delivering the CareerWISE programme which offers female undergraduates paid work placements with STEM employers.

The Scottish Government also funds Close the Gap (£205,000 per year) to change employment practices and workplace cultures to support gender equality and tackle the pay gap.

The Scottish Government has also committed to establish an 'Advisory Council on Women and Girls' to advise on action to tackle workplace and occupational segregation and other issues relating to gender equality. We have also committed to work with employers to pilot 'Returnships', which will bring experienced women back into their previous career after a break. Planning for these new initiatives is underway.

Living Wage

Increasing payment of a Living Wage will disproportionately benefit women, who make up around 65% of employees earning less than the Living Wage.

There are currently over 555 Scots-based Accredited Living Wage Employers. In March, the First Minister announced a new target of 1,000 Accredited Living Wage Employers to be achieved by Autumn 2017.

The Scottish Government controls wage packets in central government, government agencies, NDPBs, and NHS and requires these employers to pay the Living Wage. While the Scottish Government is not able to set pay levels in the private sector, or indeed the wider public sector in Scotland (where employees' pay levels are not under direct Ministerial control) we encourage every employer, regardless of sector, to ensure all staff on lower incomes receive a fair level of pay.

The Scottish Government is also increasing payment of the Living Wage by:

  • public sector pay policy for 2016-17 - which increases funding towards encouraging employers across Scotland to pay the Living Wage
  • Statutory Guidance for Procurement (launched 6 Oct 2015) which states that the Scottish Government considers that the payment of the Living Wage is a significant indicator of an employer's commitment to fair work practices.

Providing significant investment to health and social care partnerships to enable a Living Wage to be paid to adult social care workers. This will benefit up to 40,000 workers, mainly women, in 2016/17 alone.

Modern Apprenticeships

Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) published its Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships ( MA EAP) in Scotland on 2 December 2015. This plan outlines the challenges to be addressed and the actions SDS will undertake with partners to improve the participation of under-represented groups within the MA programme.

The MA EAP covers a five year period until 2021 and sets out clearly the scale of the challenge relating to gender segregation and inequality in MAs, and the requirement for all partners to work in collaboration to tackle culturally ingrained challenges.

SDS will report annually on improvement targets for each group to be achieved by 2021.

Fair Work Convention

The Fair Work Convention has identified within the Fair Work Framework for Scotland that employers should consider pay transparency and defensibility to be a core objective. This should incorporate pay levels, benefits provision and pay structures that are openly shared with workers and can provide the basis for more equal pay and more defensible pay dispersion.

Unpaid Carers

It is estimated that there are 745,000 adult carers and 44,000 young carers in Scotland. Some key facts outlined in Scotland's Carers [19] include:

  • 59% of carers are female and 41% are male.
  • 56% of all carers are also in employment or self-employment.
  • 35% of full-time carers (35+ hours per week) are also in employment or self-employment.
  • 7% of women and 5% of men said they were unable to take up work because of caring responsibilities.

The Carers (Scotland) Act will make a meaningful difference to carers. It will contribute towards the improvement of their health and wellbeing, ensuring that they can continue to care, if they so wish, and to have a life alongside caring.

The Act will, amongst other things, help to support unpaid carers to return to or remain in work by placing a duty on local authorities to provide an information and advice service that may include employment and training.

The Scottish Government has provided Carers Scotland with over £311,000 since 2012 to take forward Carer Positive. The scheme recognises those employers that support carers in the workforce and take steps to implement flexible and fair working practices. So far, 51 organisations have been assessed as being Carer Positive. The number of employees working for Carer Positive employers now stands at over 180,000.

SG is exploring how to progress the scheme further to cover more employers across Scotland.


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