New measures targeting workplace inequality – funding available

Further steps to tackle inequalities in the workplace and help women return to work following a career break have been announced by Fair Work Minister Jamie Hepburn.

A new Women Returners Programme – backed by £500,000 and following on from a 2018-19 pilot scheme – will fund projects that help to address gender inequality in the workplace and build on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce the gender pay gap.

A further £850,000 will be available through the Workplace Equality Fund to help organisations to develop more inclusive and diverse workplaces.

Mr Hepburn said: “We want to ensure everyone – irrespective of gender, race or disability – has access to employment opportunities and workplace progression.

“We know there can be a number of barriers around women returning to work following an extended absence, with many experiencing a ‘motherhood penalty’ following a break for maternity leave or to care for children.

“The Women Returners programme will help many women back into work, and this funding will provide valuable advice, peer support and access to training and work experience which will open up opportunities for women in sectors where they are under-represented.

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to have an impact on our economy and the labour market for some time to come. Both of these initiatives have a role to play in ensuring we rebuild a fairer economy for Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.”

Apply for funding

Equality groups whose work has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for funding to continue their work to promote workplace equality. 

Applications are currently open for the Workplace Equality Fund and Women Returners Programme for 2020 to 2021.

Projects should deliver short and sharp interventions supporting employers to improve their diversity and inclusion strategies and support women back into the labour market.

Find out how to apply at the Employability in Scotland website:

NB: please note the short turnaround! The closing date for applications is midnight on Wednesday 2 December 2020

There will be a webinar on 23 November (2–3pm) to answer any questions prior to this deadline. Please contact if interested.



More information on the Workplace Equality Fund and Women Returners Programme.

Earlier this month the Scottish Government launched a Minority Ethnic Recruitment Toolkit to help recruitment mangers improve diversity.

According to ONS figures, the gender pay gap for full-time employees in Scotland has decreased from 7.2 per cent in 2019 to 3.0 per cent in 2020 and in the UK it has decreased from 9.0 per cent to 7.4 per cent.

Find out more