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.

2. Purpose and Introduction

This report provides an update on the actions set out in our Fair Work Action Plan, published in 2019, and covers the 2-year period since then. It covers our broad Fair Work agenda and sits alongside the focused reports on the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan and the Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan. Together, these reports demonstrate our unwavering commitment to high quality, fair and inclusive work and employability support. They also outline our priorities going forward, including the further roll out of Fair Work First, further development of tools and resources to support employers, and maintaining a Fair Work focus on sectors of the labour market such as construction, social care, hospitality, and tourism.

In the absence of powers over employment legislation, we will continue to use our Fair Work policy to improve workers' rights and protections. Fair Work is an agenda for all, and requires employers to go beyond the bare minimum statutory employment rights and protections, including in relation to equality in the workplace. The principles of Fair Work hold true for all workers: direct employees as well as others who are paid to work for and on behalf of an organisation.

In addressing workplace inequality, we have also committed to delivering the employment-related recommendations in our Race Equality Framework (2016) and Race Equality Action Plan (2017) through our broad Fair Work priorities. This will help to achieve the Scottish Government's vision that minority ethnic people have equal, fair and proportionate access to employment and representation at all levels, grades and occupation types in Scotland's workforce, and labour market, workplace and income inequalities are eliminated.

The importance of adopting Fair Work practice has been heightened during the pandemic and has helped to protect people's lives and livelihoods and ensure workers have been treated fairly, through supporting the health and safety of workers, supporting them to follow public health advice, and encouraging employers to adopt a fair and flexible approach so workers do not face financial detriment. Fair Work is more important than ever and is central to Scotland's economic recovery and renewal, supporting our aim to move towards being a wellbeing economy.

In summary, since publication of the Fair Work Action Plan, we have:

  • Made good headway in implementing Fair Work First in line with the implementation plan; updated the Fair Work First criteria to better focus on our policy priorities and better align with the dimensions of Fair Work; and published Fair Work First Guidance.
  • Increased the number of workers receiving the real Living Wage;
  • Prioritised action to tackle the gender pay gap;
  • Established a Race Employment Team to deliver the employment actions in the Race Equality Action Plan;
  • Established new teams to focus on Covid related priorities, such as income support and workforce transformation;
  • Delivered the extended Workplace Equality Fund in 2019-20 to promote innovative solutions to overcome workforce inequality and launched similar funds in 2020-21;
  • Promoted flexible workplaces through targeted provision to support those who struggle most to access and sustain employment;
  • Strengthened the Scottish Government's strategic partnership with the STUC, and commenced joint work aiming to increase collective bargaining coverage across Scotland;
  • Worked with the enterprise and skills agencies, to embed Fair Work in their business support offer, and to develop an on-line tool to help employers adopt Fair Work practices;
  • Established and supported a Ministerial Working Group to promote Fair Work across Ministerial portfolios and oversee delivery of the Fair Work, Gender Pay Gap and Employment for Disabled People Action Plans and the employment related recommendations of the Race Equality Framework and Race Equality Action Plan; and
  • Promoted Fair Work in numerous action plans, strategies, sectoral recovery plans and through day-to-day engagement at official and Ministerial levels.

Crucially, we have maintained a strong focus on Fair Work throughout the pandemic – backed up by the Covid-19 Fair Work Statement and the shared high expectation for Fair Work from the Scottish Government, our public, private and third sector partners and the STUC. In doing so, we have encouraged constructive dialogue between employers, workers, trade unions and other worker representatives to ensure the best decisions have been made on workplace matters and workers are treated fairly. We have also influenced Public Health and Safer Workplaces sectoral guidance as part of the national response.

Despite the good progress that has been made, there is still much to be done to make Fair Work the norm for workers across the country. The Scottish Government remains committed and focused on advancing this vital agenda.


Email: Katie.Irvine@gov.scot

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