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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-02256: Pauline McNeill (Glasgow)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 31 August 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to tackle gender inequality of opportunity in the workplace.

Answered by: Keith Brown 20 September 2016

Creating a fairer workplace is essential to a sustained, long-term prosperous economy. Scotland’s labour market strategy launched on 26 August 2016, sets out a vision for a strong labour market where fair work drives inclusive, sustainable economic growth and is central to improving the lives of individuals and their families.

This government is driving forward a range of activity to tackle gender inequality in the workplace including:

We appointed an independent Fair Work Convention which published its Fair Work Framework 2016 on 21 March 2016. The framework recognises Fair Work as work which offers: Security, Opportunity, Fulfilment, Respect and Effective Voice. The programme for government reinforces our commitment of up to £500,000 to support the Fair Work Convention to embed their framework in workplaces across Scotland.

Ensuring greater pay transparency by lowering the threshold for listed public authorities to publish their gender pay gap and equal pay statements, from those with more than 150 employees to those with more than 20.

Promoting the 'Partnership for Change' initiative, a key Scottish Government policy aimed at improving the percentage of women and other under-represented groups in the boardroom in Scotland.

Encouraging employers to support payment of the real Living Wage by signing up to the Scottish Business Pledge or achieving Living Wage accreditation.

As part of our 2016-17 budget we are investing a further £250 million per year through health and social care partnerships, to protect and grow social care services. It will allow councils to commission care from the independent and voluntary sectors on the basis that people are being paid £8.25 an hour – giving up to 40,000 care workers, mainly women, doing some of the most valuable work in Scotland a pay rise.

We are working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace and the Minister for Employability and Training will chair a working group whose remit will include creating guidelines for employers to ensure best practice, as well as improving access to guidance for pregnant women and new mothers.

We have committed to abolishing fees for employment tribunals to improve women's access to justice, when we are clear on how the transfer of powers and responsibilities will work.

We will develop a Workplace Equality Fund to support equality groups including women, where the labour market does not provide good outcomes.

We are providing £205,000 to 'Close the Gap' in 2016-17, a partnership initiative working across Scotland with employers and employees, to encourage and enable action to address the gender pay gap. It works strategically with employers, employees and policymakers to encourage and enable action to narrow the gender pay gap by reducing horizontal and vertical occupational segregation, reducing discrimination embedded within pay systems and increasing flexible working opportunities.