Fair work means secure employment with fair pay and conditions, where workers are heard and represented, treated with respect and have opportunities to progress.

It is vital in tackling poverty. It balances the rights of employers and workers and is good for society and the economy.

Fair work and reducing workplace inequalities are central to our work to transform Scotland’s economy, ensuring that everyone is able to contribute. Our vision is for Scotland to become a leading fair work nation by 2025.


The Fair Work Action Plan and National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) set out the actions we are taking to promote fairer and more inclusive workplaces. We:

  • promote payment of the real Living Wage and other fair working practices like security of hours through employer accreditation schemes
  • are working to remove barriers to employment and career progression for disabled people, women, workers over 50 years old, and people who may be treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity
  • have made fair work practices such as paying at least the real Living Wage a condition for companies being awarded public sector contracts and grants
  • are targeting sectors that tend to offer low wages and insecure work - such as hospitality and childcare – to encourage improvements in terms and conditions
  • provide support and guidance for employers to help them assess their current practices and make their workplaces fairer through our fair work employer support tool
  • are promoting the benefits of trade unions and collective bargaining (the process by which trade unions negotiate with employers on behalf of their members), to achieve better pay and conditions

Who we are working with

We are working in partnership with employers across all sectors, workers, trade union partners, third sector including equalities stakeholders, and the Fair Work Convention.

How we will measure progress

We have included fair work measures in the National Performance Framework, including the percentage of workers on the living wage. Our refreshed Fair Work Action Plan also contains a measurement framework which we will use to monitor our progress on actions.

A Fair Work Oversight Group will be set up to advise on activity to support delivery, providing a challenge function and considering progress on the actions within the plan.


Employment, industrial relations and equality laws are reserved to the UK Government, but we are using our Fair Work policy in Scotland to help make workplaces fairer and more inclusive.

The real Living Wage is an independently calculated rate based on the cost of living and is paid voluntarily by employers. It is different to the UK government’s National Living Wage which is not calculated according to what employees need to live on. 

The independent Fair Work Convention advises us on issues relating to Fair Work.

See our vision for employment in Scotland.

Archive content

You can view older versions of the fair work policy content at the gov.scot archive.


Email: FairWorkCommissioning@gov.scot

Back to top