Scotland remains a unequal society blighted by deep unfairness, with little improvement over the last three years, according to the UK’s equalities watchdog.

A shock report to be published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on Thursday is set to warn that women are still less likely to have a job than men, and those who do work are likely to earn less. The report says their careers are often hindered by sexual harassment, a lack of opportunities for progression, or discrimination related to pregnancy.

Meanwhile gender pay gaps show “shocking” levels of inequality in how women’s work is valued, the Commission said.

Disabled people are twice as likely to be jobless, and are seeing the gulf between their pay and the rest of the workforce grow wider, while ethnic minorities are twice as likely to be unemployed or living in poverty.

Young people are most likely to be unemployed and are disproportionately in insecure jobs.

Lesley Sawers, Scotland Commissioner for the EHRC, said the review showed limited progress in some areas since the previous review in 2015, but this was slow, and neither consistent nor widespread.

She added: "Despite efforts made by the Scottish Government and many others the same problems which have been highlighted in previous reviews are still apparent.

"The stark reality of inequality in Scotland today is that too often people are unable to realise their full potential, are excluded from positions of influence, and experience prejudice and discrimination in daily life."

The report draws on public data to assess what progress is being made in a range of areas.

In the workplace, it warns women, disabled people, young people and ethnic minorities are still not being treated fairly. As well as being more likely to be out of work, women are more likely to be in part time work.

Just days after local authority care workers in Glasgow go on strike over the failure to resolve their equal pay claims, the EHRC report will warn that the gender pay gap has changed very little in recent years.

Women continue to be under-represented in the senior ranks of many workplaces, even in education, health and other areas where they account for the majority of the workforce, it says.

The commission claims such discrimination has a direct impact on levels of poverty, which is getting worse on nearly all measures.

The majority of children living in poverty are now from working households, it points out , while women and disabled people are most at risk from the worst poverty.

People with mental health problems and people from ethnic minority backgrounds are also more likely to be poor.

The report says the UK Government should take much of the blame for the poverty which "blights the lives" of too many Scots. "Unfairness is hardwired into the UK Government tax and spend policies, with some groups – black women, Bangladeshis and disabled people – suffering disproportionately," it says.

On sexual harassment, the report claims says a lack of research means we don't know how many people have been sexually harassed in Scottish workplaces, but various surveys suggest anything between one in three and one in ten workers have experienced sexual harassment, with one study suggesting 30 per cent of women and six per cent of men believe they have been sexually harassed at work.

While nearly all employers (94 per cent) claimed to agree that it was in the interests of their organisation to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave, nearly three-quarters of mothers (73 per cent) reported having a negative or possibly discriminatory experience when they were pregnant, on maternity leave, or returning to work from maternity leave.

The EHRC says the UK Government should introduce a right for all workers to request flexible working, from the day employment starts, to help reduce the gender pay gap and support more disabled people into work. Currently people who have been employed for less than 26 weeks have no right to ask to work flexible hours.

But it also says Scottish ministers could do more.

While praising the Scottish Government's commitment to a fair and inclusive jobs market, and increased government-funding for early learning and childcare, the report concludes more can be done.

It calls for the government to require Scottish Councils and other public authorities to publish action plans about how they are monitoring ethnicity and disability, and how they relate to employee's chances of being recruited, staying in work and progressing up the career ladder.

To tackle workplace harassment, the report says the UK Government should introduce a mandatory duty on employers to take reasonable steps to protect workers from harassment, sexual harassment and victimisation in the workplace and should extend the time limit for bringing cases to employment tribunals for discrimination and harassment to six months.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Equality is at the heart of our vision for a fairer Scotland and despite equalities legislation being largely reserved, we continue to take decisive action on this issue.

"Our Programme for Government makes clear our determination to improve the position of women in the workplace. We have established a Gender Pay Gap Working Group that includes stakeholders such as the STUC.  

"The working group will help to inform the development of the Scottish Government’s Gender Pay Gap Action Plan which is due for publication by the end of 2018.

“We are determined to go further to pursue measures to improve opportunities in the labour market, to ensure minority ethnic people are properly represented in the work place and will continue to implement the Race Equality Action Plan and hold the first annual race equality conference in December.

“We have seen recent improvements in the employment rate of disabled people, but we know they remain more likely to be out of work and to live in poverty.

"We have therefore committed in this year’s Programme for Government to at least halve the disability employment gap."

He added: “We will consider the recommendations in the report fully and respond to the EHRC in due course.”