This indicator measures the gap in median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) between men and women working full-time in Scotland.


The data for this indicator is gathered through the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). The survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) annually,  is based on a 1% sample of employee jobs taken from HM Revenue and Customs PAYE records.  Data on hours and earnings is gathered from employers and is treated confidentially. ASHE does not cover self-employed or employees not paid during the reference period.

ASHE is the most detailed and comprehensive source of earnings across the UK produced by the ONS

The headline measures used to calculate the gender pay gap relate to full-time employees on adult rates of pay (excluding overtime), whose earnings for the survey pay period were not affected by absence. They exclude the earnings of those who did not work a full week or whose earnings were reduced for other reasons, such as sickness, during the reference period.  Full-time employees are defined as those who work more than 30 paid hours per week or those in teaching professions working 25 hours or more per week.  This measure is consistent with the headline earnings measure published by ONS in their publication of this source of data.  The gender pay gap can also be measure based on all employees.  This measure for all employees is presented alongside the information for all employees

The latest ONS ASHE publication can be found at this link.

The Scottish Government has published its own analysis of the ASHE data set specifically for Scotland at this link.

Future Issues or Reviews

Gender pay gap calculations are normally made for employees on an adult rate of pay and whose pay was not affected by absence during the survey pay period. For 2020, however, the survey pay period was at a time when approximately 8.8 million employees in the UK were furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The survey collected actual payments made to each employee and the number of hours on which this pay was calculated, which for furloughed employees would be their usual hours. As a result, gender pay gap calculations are for employees on adult rates of pay and whose pay was unaffected by absence unless on furlough.

In most years, around 5 per cent of employees are excluded from the survey due to having pay affected by absence. Using this method for the 2020 data would affect around 17 per cent of employees, the increase reflecting employees who were on furlough but whose pay was not topped up by their employer. By revising the criteria for exclusion to ‘employees not on furlough but whose pay was affected by absence’ results in around 6 per cent of employees being excluded, which is similar to previous years.


The gender pay gap is defined as the percentage difference between men’s and women’s hourly earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (excluding overtime).

Including overtime would skew results as men typically work more overtime than women. Although no single measure best measures the differences between men’s and women’s pay, ONS prefer to use the median over the mean. The median is less affected by a relatively small number of very high earners than the mean, and therefore gives a better indication of typical pay.

Criteria for Recent Change Arrow


This evaluation is based on:

  • any difference within +/- 1.5 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change.
  • a decrease of 1.5 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving;
  • an increase of 1.5 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
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