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.

3.3. Delivering A Refreshed Scottish Business Pledge

Our commitment

Taking forward action to refresh the Scottish Business Pledge to ensure closer alignment to the Fair Work Framework and build greater impact.

What we have achieved

The Scottish Business Pledge has been refreshed to align more closely with the Fair Work First criteria. It now includes three core mandatory elements and seven non-mandatory elements. The core elements mirror three of the Fair Work First criteria (payment of the real Living Wage, no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts, and action to tackle the gender pay gap) and the non-mandatory elements reflect the remaining Fair Work First criteria. This enables employers to decide which five of the non-mandatory elements they wish to focus on, in order to tailor their Pledge to their particular circumstances and sector.

Since the Pledge was relaunched in October 2019, existing Business Pledge companies have been asked to transition to the new criteria. This means providing evidence demonstrate their commitment to the new core element of addressing the Gender Pay Gap and the new environmental impact element should they choose this option.

Case Study

Stewart Milne Group – Tackling the gender pay gap in the construction sector

The Stewart Milne Group employs 1,000 people across the UK, with locations in Aberdeen, Falkirk, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It already adheres to many of the commitments in the Business Pledge, including no zero-hour contracts and paying the real Living Wage, and is thrilled to officially make its commitment as a signatory.

In addition the Stewart Milne Group is passionate about reducing the gender pay gap and has worked hard to tackle this year-on-year. The most recent report on the Gender Pay Gap highlighted a 4.8% improvement, from 18.1% to 13.3%. This is significantly lower than the construction sector average of 23.6%. During the visit to celebrate this milestone, the Minster for Business, Fair Work and Skills recognised Stewart Milne Group's efforts in reducing the Gender Pay Gap – particularly welcome in construction.

Proud of this improvement, the Group looks to empower all employees to reach their full potential and has introduced several training programmes to attract more people to a career within the construction industry, regardless of their gender.

Due to Covid-19 reprioritisation, the Business Pledge was put on hold from March to September 2020 to allow staff to support business engagement. Consequently, the deadline for transition was extended to 1 September 2021 and some 550 existing businesses still need to complete their transition. However, around 350 new businesses also began the submission process to become Business Pledge members during this time.

Our future priorities

We will continue to support existing businesses to transition by 1 September 2021, including through a Business to Business learning network designed to assist businesses to upskill and adopt best practices around the refreshed Business Pledge, and a range of events focusing on the different elements.

We have established the Business Leadership Group for the Business Pledge, chaired by a business representative to put business firmly in the driving seat and to address any concerns around the Business Pledge. The Group will continue its aim to raise awareness of the Pledge and its benefits, build capability and drive increased impact.

We will continue to promote the Business Pledge and create values-led partnerships between government and businesses based on boosting productivity, competitiveness, fairness, equality and sustainable employment. A review of the Business Pledge will be carried out in 2021.


Email: Katie.Irvine@gov.scot

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