Fair Work First guidance

Fair Work First guidance for organisations seeking and awarding public sector grants, contracts and other funding – applies to grants awarded on or after 1 July 2023 and eligible agriculture grants awarded on or after 1 April 2024.

Fair Work First: the approach and what it aims to achieve

Fair Work First is the Scottish Government's flagship policy for driving high quality and fair work, and workforce diversity across the labour market in Scotland by applying fair work criteria to grants, other funding and public contracts being awarded by and across the public sector, where it is relevant to do so. Through this approach the Scottish Government is supporting employers who adopt fair working practices, specifically:

  • payment of at least the real Living Wage;
  • provide appropriate channels for effective workers' voice, such as trade union recognition;
  • investment in workforce development;
  • no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts;
  • action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace;
  • offer flexible and family friendly working practices for all workers from day one of employment; and,
  • oppose the use of fire and rehire practice.

The Fair Work First criteria seek to address particular challenges in Scotland's labour market, to make a real difference to people and their communities, business and other organisations and the economy.

Public sector grants

For public sector grants awarded on or after 1 July 2023, the default position is that Fair Work First criteria for paying at least the real Living Wage and providing appropriate channels for effective workers' voice will be mandatory while the other criteria will continue at this stage to be encouraged. Only in limited circumstances may the grant maker/funder consider making an exception to the mandatory criteria, as outlined below.

Public procurement

Note: those involved in public procurements should also refer to the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014: statutory guidance and Best Practice Guidance to understand, how to consider Fair Work First criteria, including payment of at least the real Living Wage, as part of their public procurement exercises, where it is relevant and proportionate to do so.

Since October 2021, the Scottish Government mandates payment of at least the real Living Wage in its public procurement exercises where:

  • Fair Work First practices, including payment of the real Living Wage, are relevant to how the contract will be delivered;
  • it does not discriminate amongst potential bidders;
  • it is proportionate to do so; and,
  • the contract will be delivered by workers based in the UK.


Email: FairWorkCommissioning@gov.scot

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