Tuesday, 27 July 2010

UNISON working to deliver equal pay in the college sector

Date: Tuesday 27 July 2010

In the 40th anniversary year of the Equal Pay Act, UNISON has joined with Scotland’s Colleges and the Close the Gap initiative to produce guidance to help colleges close the pay gap.

When the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, it was heralded as a major advance for women in the workforce.

However, 40 years later, the pay gap remains a stubborn reality, with figures in Scotland showing that women are still being paid less than their male counterparts – an average of 12.2% less for full time workers and a massive 32% for part time workers.

The Gender Equality Duty, which came into force in 2007, requires employers to make sure they are proactively delivering on equality, including pay equality, as both employers and service providers.

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, said:
“UNISON has a long history of organising and fighting for women’s pay equality, and we are pleased to have been involved in producing this important piece of guidance.

“Colleges have a legal responsibility to make sure they are paying fairly, and this set of tools will help them to make sure that is happening across their institutions.”

Emma Ritch, Project Manager for Close the Gap, a partnership project which works to address the gender pay gap said:
“After 40 years, the fact that such a large and widespread gap still exists is not only an issue of equality and social justice, but is bad for business and bad for Scotland’s economy.

“We have worked with Unison, and Scotland’s Colleges to ensure that colleges have accessible guidance on meeting the requirements of the legislation.”


For Further Information (and for a copy of the guidance) please contact:
Nancy Kelly, Regional Organiser 07904 342230
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer 0141 342 2877 (o) 07908 672 890 (m)
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer 0141 342 2877 (o) 07958 063 182 (m)
Close the Gap: Emma Ritch, Project Manager 07711 926833

Notes to editors:

1. The guidance is called Equal Pay Reviews and Job Evaluation: Guidance for Scotland’s colleges, and is published by Scotland’s Colleges and Close the Gap.

2. According to Close the Gap, a partnership project which works to address the gender pay gap, the three main causes of the pay gap are:

• Occupational segregation - women are clustered into the ‘5 Cs’ - catering, cleaning, caring, clerical and cashiering and are underrepresented in senior management. For example, women make up 89% of the health and social sector in Scotland, but only 19% of NHS Chief Executives/Heads are women.

• Lack of flexible working opportunities – more women than men work part time in order to balance responsibilities. Most part-time work is clustered in low paid occupations, and the lack of part-time and wider flexible working options at senior levels can also prevent women, who are likely to be the main carer, from progressing.

• Discrimination in pay and grading systems – for example individuals being appointed on different points on a pay scale, different job and grade titles for virtually the same job, male jobs having disproportionate access to bonus and earnings, women having less access to overtime and higher paid shift-work, and women not receiving the same access to training and development.

3. There are different ways of reporting on the pay gap. The media reports a combined headline UK figure which includes full-time and part-time earnings and is calculated using the median. Annual Survey of Hours and Earning (ASHE) is the source for the headline UK pay gap which is published late autumn every year. GEO uses the median hourly earnings of men working full-time compared to women working full-time and women working part-time when reporting the pay gap.

4. In Scotland the gender pay gap is reported using the mean, as the median figures underplay the fact that there are a few extremely high earning staff, most of whom are men, and that many women are clustered in the lowest paid professions. The mean takes into account the outliers and reflects the structural inequality between men and women and the issues relating to vertical occupational segregation. Furthermore, international comparisons use the mean.

5. UNISON represents all the non-teaching staff in Scotland's colleges, covering many jobs including managers, library assistants, schools liaison, technicians, janitors, security staff and cleaners.

6. Close the Gap is a partnership initiative working to close the gender pay gap in Scotland. Close the Gap works with employers and employees to enable action to address the causes of the pay gap. Their partners include the Scottish Government, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Trade Union Congress.


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