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In the spotlight: measures to bridge the gender pay gap

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Measures aimed at bridging the gender pay gap continue to hit the headlines this month as the UK government announces that it has allocated £500,000 of the Returners Fund to organisations across the country.

The Fund is a grant programme of £1.5 million which is available to organisations in the private sector running projects which will support “returners” back into employment.

A returner is a person who left paid employment for at least one year in order to take on a caring responsibility and would like to return to work at a level which is suitable for them given their skills and experience.

In the UK, nine out of 10 returners are women. It has been proven that time out of work and fewer overall years of full-time work are two of the reasons why women face challenges with progression in their chosen careers. In turn, this contributes to the gender pay gap.

The Fund will allocate the remaining £1 million in December and the Government Equalities Office is calling in particular for applications from projects which target parents. The majority of the grants made so far have focused instead on support for carers.

Women Returners, a social consultancy supporting returners, was one of the organisations which benefited from the Fund, having been awarded £110,000. Women Returners is an established expert in supporting returners, having assisted more than 50 employers to develop their own returner programmes and hundreds of women to get back into fulfilling work. The grant will allow the organisation to support 100 returners through workshops and training in the legal sector in England.

Earlier this month, Dentons joined forces with Women Returners Scotland to take part in a new scheme with similar aims. For further details on this initiative, please click here.

The gender pay gap continues to attract political attention. In Scotland, delegates attending the SNP conference next month will debate a proposal to prohibit public sector employers from asking women about their current salary before offering them a job. Mhairi Love, the member behind the party motion, told the Times that “asking for salary history is really shorthand for employers to ascertain the minimum they can pay someone” and commented that this “disadvantages people with childcare, or with other caring responsibilities, who are predominantly women”.

The latest developments show that across both the public and private sectors, new and creative ways of addressing issues which face women in the workplace are being explored. If you have any questions about how your organisation should approach gender pay gap reporting or wish to discuss measures you could put in place to reduce any gap that has been identified, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team.