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MSPs begin inquiry into impact of equal pay

15 February 2017

Whether the continuing gender pay gap is holding back the Scottish economy is the subject of a new inquiry by a committee of MSPs.

The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Fair Work & Jobs Committee has begun a study into the impact of equal pay, as current research shows that progress on closing the gender pay gap has been so slow that on current trends it will not be eradicated until 2069.

A report by Holyrood staff indicates that women working full time in Scotland still earn on average 6.2% less than men, with the largest pay gaps being found in skilled trades and management. Finance and insurance shows the highest pay gap, at 29.9% – despite 51% of its employees being women.

In addition, according to UK Government figures, equalising women’s productivity could add almost £600bn to the economy, while if the 2.2m women who wanted to work could find suitable jobs, 10% could be added to the size of the economy by 2030.

The remit for the inquiry is: "To explore the effect of the gender pay gap on the Scottish economy, with a particular focus on business performance, the Scottish public sector and Scottish Government action required to address the issue." Among other questions it will consider how the gender pay gap should be defined and measured, as well as Government action that can be taken to reduce it.

Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst MSP commented: “Equal pay is still not a reality for many working people in Scotland. An important question for the committee will be: is this holding back Scotland’s economic growth?

“The committee will examine whether addressing the gender pay gap could positively affect Scotland’s business performance. We want to know: what is the effect of unequal pay on the Scottish public sector? And crucially, what action is required from the Scottish Government to tackle the issue?”

Mr Lindhurst continued: “The committee wants to consider the economic value of equal pay and understand the impact of the gender pay gap on the Scottish economy. Vital to this inquiry will be the direct experiences of people ‘on the ground’ – the businesses and organisations that are working to close the gender pay gap, and individuals who struggle to access equal pay. Their expertise and experiences will guide and lead our work, telling us what measures are being taken – and what still needs to happen – to create a level playing field.”

Click here to view the call for evidence. The deadline for submissions is 10 March 2017. The committee will produce a report on its findings, including policy recommendations, in June.


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