Gender pay gap reporting from Scottish public bodies improves slightly

Analysis shows only marginal improvement in a selection of Scottish public sector bodies when it comes to the gender pay gap, with only 45% showing evidence of action planning to address their gap.

Illustration of gender pay gap with money and seesaw - FTSE100 directors


The gender pay gap in 14 of the 20 Scottish public bodies only marginally improved over the last year, according to a report by Audit Scotland.

The report is based on a random sample of listed public sector bodies of all sizes and representing a range of sectors. Listed– Opens in a new window public bodies in Scotland have to publish information every two years on the percentage difference, among all their employees, between men’s average hourly pay (excluding overtime) and women’s average hourly pay (excluding overtime).

The report found that while employers such as NHS Education Scotland (NES) had made significant progress, reducing their mean gender pay gap from 13% in 2019 to 7.28% in March 2020, the mean gender pay gap for the public bodies analysed showed wide variation – between 1.01% and 35.7%, with two bodies close to zero at just over 1% and a further three bodies, including Scottish Water, at around 3%.

Audit Scotland says it seems that not all public bodies are clear about how they should calculate and present gender pay gap data. They found inconsistencies in the gender pay gap information provided and some was difficult to access.

Only half of the organisations provided any narrative alongside their figures and just 45% showed evidence of action planning to address their gap. Audit Scotland says the lack of detailed analysis or sufficient breakdown of data makes effective action planning to reduce the gender pay gap more difficult. Only 45% of bodies gave information on job types and grading despite the fact that this helps in planning action to address gaps. Just 15% provided any intersectional data on gender and age and gender and disability. The report also states that 85% published their overall mean gender pay gap figure for all staff, with 13 of the 20 providing both a mean and median figure.

Audit Scotland encourages employers to publish both the mean and median pay gap figure as it says the median is not skewed by very low or very high rates of pay. Moreover, as gender pay gap issues are most pronounced in the lowest paid or highest paid employees it says the median may fail to pick up gendered differences as effectively as the mean figure. It states: “Publishing both figures is useful as it gives an additional perspective.”

The report also recommends that employers publish the overall pay gap figure for the entire workforce, including full and part-time earnings and temporary employees as well as those on fixed-term contracts to give the most complete picture across the whole workforce of any gender pay inequalities. And it encourages an intersectional approach, more detailed analysis of the figures, for instance, looking at the impact of flexible working. Another key recommendation is for employers to publish an action plan.

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