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A number of Scottish universities increased the number of workers on a zero hour contract despite a pledge committed to eradicating such contracts.
Although zero hour contracts are legal, many experts and employees believe they are unfair on workers who do not get to have set hours or guaranteed shifts and can result in a minimum amount of income. In 2015, Principals of Scottish universities signed a pledge which stated that they would reduce the number of workers on such contracts. However, a report found that zero hours contracts have increased in many universities with junior academics often working a number of short-term contracts at the same time.
Despite pledging to end such contracts, universities have maintained a number of workers on such contracts, resulting in trade unions applying pressure on the Scottish Government to eradicate the practice.
Although the zero hour contract practice was employed across many areas in Scotland, none were in Edinburgh universities.
The news regarding zero hour contracts comes at the same time that some universities in Scotland were found to have a significant gender pay gap according to a report.
Four Scottish universities, Aberdeen, Glasgow, St Andrews and University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) were found to have significant gaps in wages with a study stating that the gender pay gap amounted to thousands of pounds.
A report from the University and College Union (UCU) found that UHI paid male lecturers up to £18,000 more than female lecturers with Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrews having a pay gap of around £9,000.
UCU Scotland official, Mary Senior, said: "These universities should not have allowed such shameful levels of pay inequality to persist.
"It's nearly 50 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force and they're still flying in the face of it
"We'd like to see a firm commitment from sector leaders to close the gap and are offering to work with institutions to put an end to pay inequality."
Despite the criticism of the differences between male and female wages, all four universities questioned stated that the gender pay gap was not as near as estimated by the UCU with all four insisting that the organisation had used out of date statistics. Aberdeen university published their own stats on their wage difference showing that they had a 1% wage gap.
Despite a number of initiatives being introduced to reduce the gender pay gap in the UK, sadly, each year many female workers are paid less than their male colleagues despite the same experience and role. If you believe you have been underpaid or if you have been discriminated or harassed in the workplace due to your gender, or for any other reason, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact our team of employment experts using our online contact form for the best legal advice and representation.