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.

3.15. Scottish Government As An Employer

Our commitment

Demonstrating leadership as an employer by adopting Fair Work practices aligned with the Fair Work Framework.

What we have achieved

As an employer, the Scottish Government continues to prioritise Fair Work and embed commitments in our policy and practice which are underpinned by the terms of the Fair Work agreement reached with our recognised trade unions in 2018. The approaches and standards adopted within the Scottish Government provide a benchmark which can also influence the wider public sector in Scotland to improve practice.

We are:

  • Implementing the Scottish public sector pay policy and continuing the commitment that every worker whose pay is controlled directly by Scottish Government will be paid at least the real Living Wage and encouraging employers to become Accredited Living Wage employers as components of our reward strategy.
  • Leading by example through regular meaningful and constructive engagement with the civil service Trade Unions and embedding Fair Work agreement commitments through partnership working as a key principle of our employee relations strategy.
  • Building on our Fair Work agreement with trade unions through the Covid-19 pandemic, with a Trade Union protocol setting out commitments to Fair Work during this period.
  • Ensuring wellbeing of staff is supported, adapting policy and practice during the Covid-19 pandemic including allowing staff to work flexibly and balance child and other caring responsibilities, enhancing resources, and our practice.
  • Supporting engagement with our delivery and public bodies to ensure consistency of approach and understanding of Fair Work principles.
  • Delivering on our vision to be a diverse and inclusive employer, progressing significant activity within our disability recruitment and retention action plan, the development of our race equality plan to meet our public sector equality duties and mainstreaming equalities into corporate policy and service development.

Our future priorities

We will continue to align policy approaches and practice with Fair Work commitments, with an aim of becoming a leading Fair Work employer. Focus for 2021 will include development of our refreshed people strategy, supporting development of refreshed organisational vision and values, engagement in corporate services transformation while continuing to embed our diversity and inclusion, engagement and wellbeing commitments through our continued response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scottish Government's Race Recruitment and Retention Plan

"The Scottish Government Race Recruitment and Retention Plan was launched in February 2021, setting out the action we will take to deliver on our vision to be a world-leading diverse and inclusive employer, where racial equality is achieved. It was developed in partnership with the Council of Scottish Government Unions and in collaboration with our Race Equality Network and external race-focused organisations. At the heart of the Plan are the voices and views of minority ethnic employees in Scottish Government. The Plan has at its heart an anti-racist approach and is built around the following priorities focused on the whole system, aiming to redistribute power and bring about cultural change:

  • Embedding Responsibility and Accountability
  • Leadership, Governance and Decision Making
  • Recruitment and Representation
  • Career progression and promotion
  • Building an anti-racist culture

Sharing – and relinquishing – power, and building collective leadership are critical to making systemic changes. The Scottish Government will seek to do this by increasing the representation of minority ethnic people in the Senior Civil Service and by exploring structures which enable diverse voices to effectively influence decision-making. We will focus on building an anti-racist mind-set amongst senior leaders to enable them to effectively challenge decisions, behaviours and attitudes which may result in racial inequity. To support this change, we will build a critical mass of race allies across a range of business functions, grades and roles. We will focus on creating opportunities for exposure to diverse experiences and ways of thinking; building empathy and understanding of others' perspectives; and engaging to listen and understand and act on what minority ethnic colleagues are telling us is their experience.

Our immediate priorities are establishing effective governance to oversee the implementation of this Plan and equipping our work force at all levels to understand their responsibilities and take effective action to advance race equality. In particular we will seek to normalise race as part of our workplace conversations, in a way which is safe and respectful to create a shared language to discuss racial equality and inclusion."

Scottish Government Agreement with Civil Service Trade Unions on the management of the impacts of Covid -19 on staff

"Recognising that the coronavirus outbreak would have a significant impact on the work of public bodies across the Scottish sector and on individual members of staff, the Scottish Government engaged quickly and constructively with the recognised Civil Service Trade Unions to agree how work arrangements should be managed during the period of the outbreak. Our priority has been to establish a set of principles and to set out how specific terms of employment will exceptionally be applied during the period of the outbreak. The underlying principle of the protocol is that staff will not face any detriment, such as to pay; employment and terms and conditions, as a result of Covid-19 and the approach is designed to support and encourage compliance with Government guidance on dealing with COVID-19. In addition, the arrangements set out within the protocol ensure that temporary agency workers and self-employed contractors receive equal treatment to permanent employees.

Ensuring that employers and staff follow the legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes, the protocol gives guidance to employers on measures to be put in place for staff who are required to attend workplaces alongside

Given the fluid circumstances created by COVID-19, a joint working group comprising Scottish Government and trade union representatives will review the ongoing situation and any requirements for changed or additional guidance for employers and employees."

Lesley Fraser, Scottish Government, Director General for Corporate

Lesley Fraser

Scottish Government, Director General for Corporate

Case Study

Skills Development Scotland: supporting staff through the pandemic

We have continued to adapt our HR policies throughout the pandemic, ensuring colleague wellbeing remains at the heart of decision making. By positioning activity through a “pandemic lens” we’ve strived to ensure colleagues are supported and experience no detriment to their wellbeing and work/life balance.

We introduced a special leave policy, with no impact on pay for colleagues experiencing extended absence due to delays in treatment, and for colleagues caring for dependents while working remotely. This “financial security” policy has been welcomed by our Trade Union partners and by colleagues across SDS, as evidenced by the results of our Pandemic Engagement and Wellbeing surveys. These surveys were introduced to gather feedback on the employee experience during the pandemic. The facilitation of employee voice has been a top priority: it has allowed us to gain a deep understanding and appreciation of the variety of colleague circumstances and enabled us to quickly respond to evolving needs. As a result, colleagues have continued to recommend SDS as a good place to work and provided positive feedback on our response to the pandemic, the support offered to teams and individuals, and our emphasis on prioritising colleague wellbeing:

“The supportive attitude around those with dependents/caring responsibilities and ensuring no one has had any detriment has been fantastic.”

“Lots of opportunities for staff to feed into conversations on what working at SDS will look like as we go forward. Learning opportunities and support in place early on to help people manage working at home effectively”.


Email: Katie.Irvine@gov.scot

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