Fair Work action plan: becoming a leading Fair Work nation by 2025

A refreshed action plan setting out actions to promote fair and inclusive workplaces across Scotland. This incorporates actions on tackling the gender pay gap, the disability employment gap, and our anti-racist employment strategy, driving fair work practices for all.

1. Ministerial foreword

There will be alternative formats available soon for this publication, in summary version, including a BSL translation, Audio and Gaelic translation.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work

Fair Work and tackling inequality are at the heart of Scotland’s economic and social programme and are key to a just transition to a net zero wellbeing economy. The next few years are critical in ensuring we make the progress needed to achieve the vision for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work nation by 2025, and meet the changing needs of our economy and workforce. There have been considerable challenges impacting on our Fair Work ambitions in recent years, including EU Exit, the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing impacts of the war in Ukraine, and the current cost of living crisis. These all demonstrate the need for Government to continue to be adaptive and responsive.

Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) outlines the actions needed to maximise the opportunities to achieve the vision of a well-being economy, recognising that “every citizen holds Scotland’s economic potential in their hands”. It clearly acknowledges the challenges, including that currently not everyone is afforded the same opportunities. NSET seeks to reorient our economy towards wellbeing and fair work, delivering higher rates of employment and wage growth, reducing structural poverty, particularly child poverty, and improving health, cultural and social outcomes for disadvantaged families and communities.

Fair Work is a model for innovation and success, with many employers in Scotland already implementing fair work practices, providing safe and secure working environments and promoting positive workplace cultures where staff are engaged and have their voices heard. Economies that have stronger productivity growth also have higher wellbeing. Good businesses recognise that a well-paid respected and diverse workforce is more productive.

In striving to become a leading Fair Work nation, we are seeking to realise fundamental rights for all, consistent with the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes: the right to work, to free choice of employment, and to just and favourable conditions of work. Integral to this, is taking action to improve labour market outcomes for those groups who experience the most disadvantage and inequality, especially women, disabled people and people from racialised minorities.[1] Whilst labour market inequalities persist, there are lost opportunities, not only for individuals, but also for our economy as a whole.

This refresh of the Fair Work Action Plan brings together our original Fair Work, Gender Pay Gap, and Disabled People’s Employment action plans, along with our new Anti-Racist Employment Strategy. It takes forward the next phase of actions to drive forward Fair Work. It will make it easier for employers and partners to access information on the critical role Fair Work has to play in achieving positive economic benefits on both an individual and collective level, how employers can implement fair work practices in their workplaces to experience these benefits, and to create more diverse and inclusive workforces.

There will always be a moral imperative to deliver Fair Work, but there is also a clear economic imperative. Evidence tells us that through fair work practices, employers will reap the benefits of a fairly rewarded, respected, diverse and inclusive workforce, in their performance, innovation, and productivity. Achieving our Fair Work vision has benefits for us all, but relies on leadership and support from right across our economy, and particularly from the public sector which as a significant employer and stewards of funding has a key role to play in demonstrating the standards we want to see that will make a positive difference to people and the economy.

Of course, we also recognise that, particularly due to the absence of legislative powers over employment law, the Scottish Government is limited in how much we can influence at a workplace level. That is why we are keen to work in collaboration with partners, including trade unions, equality stakeholder groups, and employers themselves to make a genuine impact. I am grateful to all our partners and stakeholders who have worked with us to develop this action plan, and look forward to your continued support in helping to deliver it.


Email: FWDisabledPeople@gov.scot

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