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Friday, 29 December, 2000, 06:15 GMT
Women 'still playing catch-up'
Woman on phone
Women can earn 25% less then men
Women in Scotland are continuing to face discrimination in the workplace, according to an employment watchdog.

Citizens Advice Scotland says there is still a long way to go in closing the gender gap - despite equal pay legislation which was introduced 25 years ago.

When the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into being they promised to rid the workplace of inequality based on sex.

But in its report, published on Friday, the advice bureau says that men are still paid nearly 25% more than their female counterparts.

The present programme on employment rights, support for working families and social inclusion is strongly geared towards improving the position of women

Brian Wilson, Scotland Office Minister
The organisation cites examples from across Scotland which suggest women are paid significantly less than men to do the same job.

There have also been claims that management ignore persistent sexual harassment, forcing employees to resign.

But the Equal Opportunities Commission in Scotland says by far the most common complaints are from pregnant women, in particular relating to poor health and safety.

The Scottish Low Pay Unit says the fact that young women leave school with better grades than young men, but then go on to earn less, is evidence that society overlooks skill and ability but pays according to gender.

Despite the criticism, the UK Government believes the acts are working well.

'More to be done'

Scotland Office Minister Brian Wilson admitted more needed to be done, but said a great deal had already been achieved.

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson: "Improvements being made"
He said: "The Sex Discrimination Act led to the setting up of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which has done much to challenge the unfair and unequal treatment of women - particularly in the workplace.

"The present government's programme on employment rights, support for working families and social inclusion is strongly geared towards improving the position of women."

He pointed to examples such as the national minimum wage, the new deal for lone parents, improved rights for part-time workers and the "work-life balance campaign," which aims to reconcile the needs of the workplace with the demands of family life.

"All these initiatives are helping to address the inequalities that still exist," said Mr Wilson.

But he admitted that there was still a gender gap and said more would be done to redress that balance.

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See also:

25 May 00 | UK
'Long delay for equal pay'
21 Feb 00 | Business
Women way behind on pay
27 Oct 99 | The Economy
Gender pay gap fight launched
21 Feb 00 | UK
Women's workplace wars
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