Fair work action plan: annual report

This annual report provides an update on progress achieved on actions within the Fair Work Action Plan since its publication in 2019. It also sets out our future priorities for continuing to advance our Fair Work agenda across Scotland as part of our economic recovery and renewal.

3.11. The Real Living Wage

Our commitment

Increasing the number of people employed who are paid the real Living Wage.

What we have achieved

Payment of the real Living Wage continues to be a key strand of our Fair Work agenda and is being progressed through the Scottish Living Wage Employer Accreditation scheme and our Fair Work First approach.

The Scottish Government has provided £760,000 to the Poverty Alliance in the 2-years 2019/20-2020/21 to increase the number of Living Wage Accredited employers across Scotland as a way to drive up the number of workers receiving a real Living Wage. There are now 1,950 accredited living waged employers spanning many sectors of our economy, an increase of 700 over the past two years. These accreditations have led to 8,650 additional workers receiving an uplift to the real Living Wage in this period, with some 47,250 workers currently being paid the real Living Wage.

It is extremely heartening that during the very challenging conditions over the past year, we have seen an additional 300 employers achieving accreditation and an uplift to at least the real Living Wage for over 4,520 workers, including some in sectors which have been hit hard by the pandemic. This gives a clear message that employers recognise the benefits from paying the real Living Wage – not just for their workers but for their business too.

The Poverty Alliance has also introduced the Make Living Wage Places initiative as a way to promote payment of the real Living Wage in localities, including at town, city and regional levels. This approach is progressed through local partnerships, involving the relevant local authority and employers. In March 2019, Dundee was announced as the UK's first Living Wage City, with Glenrothes being announced as the UK's first Living Wage Town in August 2019. During Living Wage Week 2020 Scottish Borders Council announced ITS intention to work toward Eildon being recognised as a Living Wage Place. Edinburgh and Aberdeen have also announced their intention to work towards Living Wage City recognition. This shows the growing movement across the country to embed payment of the real Living Wage using the Make Living Wage Place award.

However, we know that the level of pay is only one factor in ensuring workers receive a fair pay and that the number of hours worked is also crucial. The Scottish Government opposes the inappropriate use of zero-hours or other precarious contracts. That is why our Fair Work First criteria is focused on promoting security of pay and contracts; asking employers not to use zero-hours contacts inappropriately as well as pay the real Living Wage. Taken together, these elements of Fair Work will provide greater certainty to workers about how much they will be paid each week and the number and regularity of hours they will be expected to work.

In this regard, we are tracking the Living Wage Foundation's 'Living Hours' campaign, currently being rolled out across the UK. In doing so, we will learn from the experience of organisations such as Standard Life Aberdeen, who are recognised as a Living Hours employer through this campaign.

Our future priorities

We will continue to work in partnership with the Poverty Alliance to promote payment of the real Living Wage, helping Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders to achieve their Make Living Wage Place ambitions.

With the Poverty Alliance, we will also develop a Living Hours approach for Scotland.

We will continue to promote payment of the real Living Wage and no inappropriate use of zero-hours contracts through Fair Work First, using the good practice contained in the Fair Work First Guidance to influence employers' practice in this regard.

Case Study

Boozy Events Ltd

As an events business one of the main reasons for becoming accredited was to show that a small hospitality business like ours is able to pay a genuine living wage to everyone in the team. Before the pandemic we were an in-person events company, however, the crisis forced us to pivot our business model to become a virtual experiences company.

It was a new concept and had plenty of challenges to get it off the ground. Some of those challenges still remain especially related to logistics, but with an early focus on building a great team, the business has succeeded in adapting to the ever-changing environment and has enjoyed a record-breaking year.

Ultimately becoming an accredited Living Wage employer has helped us to find great talent and it shows we care about the team by paying a fair wage. It has also helped us win business from like-minded clients who understand what it means to be a Living Wage accredited employer. Plus, it shows to suppliers, contractors and customers that we are an ethical business.

Gregor Sey, Director, Boozy Events Ltd


Email: Katie.Irvine@gov.scot

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