SNP points to gender-pay gap as it makes bid for employment law to be devolved
The SNP has called on the UK Government to either strengthen employment law or devolve it to Holyrood in order to close the ongoing gender pay gap.
In 2021 the average woman in Scotland earned 11.6 per cent less than the average man, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, while across the UK as a whole the average woman earned 15.4 per cent less.
The figures are an improvement on 2017 - when the Scottish and UK pay gaps were 16 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively - but SNP MSP Gillian Martin said more needs to be done to eradicate the gap completely.
“The gender pay gap may be smaller in Scotland than it is across the UK, but our economy could benefit by a further £15bn if we had the powers to tackle that gap and work to close it for good,” she said.
“To help us do that, the UK Government must either strengthen employment law, or devolve employment law to the Scottish Parliament.
“The pandemic has been particularly hard on women, and suspending gender pay gap reporting last year did not help this.
“We need radical and swift action to address it in the recovery. This should be a moment of resolution across the political divide - to tackle this economic inequality for good.”
Organisations with 250 or more employees have been required to report their gender pay gaps since 2017, although enforcement was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning many organisations will not have compiled their figures for 2020 or 2021. The ONS has also warned that figures since the start of the pandemic need to be treated with caution due to the impact Covid had on the hours people worked and so the amount they earned.
Gender pay compares average salaries across the workforce and is not the same thing as equal pay, which looks at whether men and women are being paid the same amount for doing work of equal value.
The fact there is a gender pay gap shows that men, in general, are in better paid jobs across the workforce than women. This is in part because women are more likely to do part-time work or be employed in less lucrative caring or cleaning roles, and in part because the most senior and so best-paid jobs are still disproportionately held by men.
Martin said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “urgently needs to do more to address the imbalance created due to women predominantly taking on unpaid and pensionless care roles, as well as remove the structural barriers that prevent women’s economic potential being reached”.
The Scottish Government already has powers to influence the gender pay gap by, for example, looking at the levels of pay on offer for public sector roles typically carried out by women or making it a requirement that companies bidding for public sector contracts address their own pay gaps in order to win the work.