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Law Society of Scotland welcomes new equal pay transparency

17 March 2015 | tagged News release

The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed legislation which will require employers to publish what they pay their male and female staff.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which passed its third reading before the House of Lords today, Tuesday, 17 March will require businesses employing more than 250 people to publish the average difference between male and female pay.

Janet Hood, the Law Society of Scotland’s Equality and Diversity Committee convener said “This is a very welcome development. Equal pay laws were introduced in 1970, but nearly half a century later we still see women earning less than men, in some cases significantly less. 

“In the legal sector we have seen huge progress on so many equality issues, and expect to see women overtake men in numbers as early as next year.  However, a decade of research by the Law Society shows there is a still a large pay gap in the legal profession – with a 42% difference at its worst. With increasing numbers of women entering the legal profession year on year, it is essential that we do what we can to ensure that opportunities remain for those who want to progress in their careers and that disparity in pay becomes a thing of the past.”

The Law Society of Scotland’s Equality and Diversity Strategy sets out 10 new equality standards for law firms, which includes publication of gender pay gap figures for firms of more than 150 staff.

Neil Stevenson, Director of Representation and Professional Support at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We have recently published a new toolkit on equal pay which provides everything law firms need to carry out the work required by this new legislation. 

“Our new equality standards, published in February this year, also contain a simple requirement to publish gender pay figures– and we were delighted at Scottish Government support for this approach when they included our new standard on this within their current tendering exercise for external legal services.

“Our new framework and equality standards will help law firms be proactive and address any issues before the requirement to publish these figures is introduced. It will be important that firms work to ensure they comply with the new legislation, not least to ensure that they maintain the confidence of their employees and their clients.”

The Equality Strategy and 10 Equality Standards are published on the Law Society  website.

ENDS                                                              17 MARCH 2015

Note to Editors

The text of the agreed amendment introducing a requirement to publish pay figures as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, tabled by Baroness Thornton and agreed at the debate in the House of Lords on Thursday 12 March, is below.

147 Equal pay: transparency

(1) The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible, and no later than 12 months after the passing of this Act, make regulations under section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 (gender pay gap information) for the purpose of requiring the publication of information showing whether there are differences in the pay of males and females.

(2) The Secretary of State must consult such persons as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate on the details of such regulations prior to publication.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884 / 7825 206468 or Louise Docherty on 0131 476 8204

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