Publication - Advice and guidance

Fair Work First: guidance to support implementation

Update September 2021: this guidance has been updated to take into account the two additional criteria on flexible working and fire and rehire practices. The updated guidance is at https://www.gov.scot/publications/fair-work-first-guidance/ .

Fair Work First: guidance to support implementation
Strategic Context

Strategic Context

Scotland is leading the way in creating a wellbeing economy; delivering sustainable and inclusive growth for the people of Scotland. This means creating a more resilient economy where businesses can thrive, innovate and create good quality jobs in a way that enhances quality of life, reduces inequalities and is compatible with a net zero, sustainable economy.

The strategic ambitions for Fair Work are set out in the Fair Work Convention's Framework (2016). In response to this, the Scottish Government set out the actions it will take forward to achieve this agenda in its Fair Work Action Plan (2019).  Fair Work is central to achieving the government's priority for sustainable and inclusive growth, through which everyone in Scotland can contribute to and benefit from our country's success.

Understanding Fair Work and why it is important

Work is an important part of adult life, and is critical to our wellbeing and shaping how we live. The Fair Work Convention's Framework defines Fair Work as work that offers effective voice, fulfilment, opportunityrespect and security. These dimensions of Fair Work will manifest in different ways in different workplaces, aiming to balance the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers.  They should be visible in the attitudes, behaviours, culture and policies and practices within an organisation – demonstrating the value placed on fair and equal opportunity in work.  The Fair Work First criteria aligns with the dimensions of Fair Work, and are focused on:

  • providing a decent standard of living and income; 
  • offering security of contract, including hours and earnings; other entitlements including sick pay and pension;
  • fostering an environment where workers' views are actively sought, listened to and can make a difference, including through a stronger role for trade unions;
  • giving opportunities for all to learn, develop and progress; 
  • creating a healthy and safe environment, where individuals' wellbeing is actively supported;
  • enabling people to have a good work-life balance; 
  • supporting people to feel valued and respected and that they have a sense of purpose in work and wider society; and 
  • promoting innovation and productivity.

These elements can reinforce each other, creating a virtuous circle of positive practices, behaviours, attitudes and outcomes that can help organisations to remain competitive and to grow and prosper, and creating a culture which ensures workers are treated fairly.    

Fair work is key to supporting people and business to flourish and is critical to achieving a modern, high value, inclusive economy – today and in the future.  Enabling a more inclusive, people-centred culture of work which supports workers and employers to shape their organisations together, and to develop the skills needed for a successful future, is key.  Talented people are at the heart of every successful operation.  By creating the conditions for workers to develop and utilise their skills, Fair Work can enable workers to play a full and active role - underpinning high productivity, performance and innovation and contributing to healthier, wealthier and more inclusive societies.

Fair Work is an agenda for all, and requires employers to go beyond 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.

Fair Work as part of Scotland's economic recovery and renewal

The Scottish Government has maintained a strong focus on the vision for Scotland to be a Fair Work Nation throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.  Fair Work has been at the heart of the national response for protecting workers' health and livelihoods and the economy throughout the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.  Along with our strategic partners, the Scottish Government believes that Fair Work will play an important part in supporting a stimulus-led recovery and must remain at the heart of economic recovery and renewal.  

Maintaining a focus on Fair Work is, therefore, more important than ever and can support continuing partnerships between workers and employers for addressing workplace issues and ensuring workers are treated fairly as the economy re-opens. 

How the guidance should be used

The Fair Work First guidance is designed to support business and other organisations to progress on a journey of continuous improvement in Fair Work.  It is a good idea to read the whole document once, however it can and should be dipped into as and when required. The table of contents should assist you to find the sections that are relevant for you. 

In addition to accessing support provided by relevant networks, organisations should use the guidance in conjunction with other relevant guidance, such as:

Employers are also encouraged to use the Fair Work Employer Support Tool to understand  their fair work practices and access support to enable them to strengthen their approach.  Similarly, employers should encourage their employees to use the Fair Work Convention's Employee Self-Assessment Tool to assess their own experience of Fair Work and be willing to engage with workers and unions in responding to the findings of these assessment tools.

The guidance can be used by the respective stakeholders as follows:

1. Public sector grants

  • grant-makers should use the guidance as follows:
    • to consider how the Fair Work First criteria applies to a grant, consistent with the context in which it can be applied; 
    • to evaluate a grant applicant's commitment to Fair Work First in their application and assess the verification of such; 
    • to engage with a grant recipient to agree relevant milestones and outcomes for supporting delivery of their Fair Work First commitment;
    • to evaluate progress being made towards those commitments as part of grant management arrangements.
  • grant applicants / recipients should use the guidance to:
    • agree their organisation's approach for applying Fair Work First within the organisation; 
    • to provide evidence in the grant application confirming the action they will take to adopt the Fair work First criteria;
    • monitor progress towards delivering against their proposals in relation to the Fair Work First criteria as part of grant management arrangements;
    • consider further action which could be taken to enhance the organisation's Fair Work approach

2. Public sector procurements

  • buyers (those awarding a public contract) should use the guidance as follows:
    • to consider how Fair Work First applies to a procurement in a relevant and proportionate manner; 
    • to support the evaluation of bids submitted by suppliers;
    • where appropriate, to evaluate progress being made towards delivering against their tender proposals in relation to the Fair Work First criteria through contract management arrangements.
  • bidders / suppliers should use the guidance to:
    • explain in the response to tender actions they will take throughout the lifetime of the contact to deliver the Fair Work First criteria, where it is relevant to the contract;
    • agree their approach for applying Fair Work First within the contract; 
    • monitor and provide evidence of progress towards delivering against their Tender response in relation to the Fair Work First criteria as part of contract management arrangements.

3. Funding for public bodies

Public bodies have a dual role to play in supporting the implementation of Fair Work First: as employers; and as the stewards of significant public funding which supports them to deliver public services and support Scottish Government priorities, including through procurements or the award of funding. 

  • Scottish Government sponsorship / funding leads should use the guidance as follows:
    • to consider how Fair Work applies to the public body; 
    • to agree with the public body what their Fair Work First priorities will be;
    • to evaluate progress being made towards the body's Fair Work First commitments as part of the agreed monitoring and reporting arrangements.
  • public bodies should use the guidance to:
    • identify their Fair Work First priorities;
    • monitor and provide evidence of progress towards meeting the Fair Work First criteria as part of sponsorship/funding arrangements;
    • consider further action the body could take to enhance their Fair Work approach;
    • to apply Fair Work First to any relevant grants or contracts they themselves award, as illustrated in sections (1) and (2) above

Verification of an organisation's Fair Work First commitment

Organisations who are accessing grant funding are asked by the Scottish Government to include a short statement on their own website highlighting their commitment to advancing the Fair Work First criteria. The statement should be agreed jointly by the employer and an appropriate workplace representative. This should be from  the relevant trade union where one is present, or workers representative(s) where there is no union present.

Organisations delivering a public contract and who have agreed to adopt the Fair Work First criteria, are also asked to include a short statement on their own website highlighting their commitment to advancing the Fair Work First criteria. The statement should be agreed jointly by the employer and an appropriate workplace representative.  This should be from the relevant trade union where one is present, or workers representative(s) where there is no union present.

Public bodies should include a short statement on their own website highlighting their commitment to advancing the Fair Work First criteria. The statement should be agreed jointly by the employer and an appropriate workplace representative.  This should be from the relevant trade union where one is present, or workers representative(s) where there is no union present. Those civil service bodies who are already part of the Fair Work Agreement between the Scottish Government and relevant trade unions may wish to highlight their commitment to the Agreement. Other public bodies may wish to consider developing similar agreements. 

Grants

As part of the application process for grant funding, applicants may be asked to provide a statement verifying their Fair Work First commitment and confirming it has been developed in agreement with the workforce.  This should be from the relevant trade union where one is present, or workers representative(s) where there is no union present.  

As part of the grant monitoring process, the grant recipient should confirm the progress being made towards the commitments set out in the grant agreement. A short statement agreed by an appropriate workforce representative, confirming the organisation's progress in adopting Fair Work First commitments, should be submitted to the grant maker, in advance of the conclusion of the grant.  This should be from the relevant trade union where one is present, or workers representative(s) where there is no union present. Grant recipients will also be expected to provide information about the changes they have made and related impacts for their workforce and organisation. The employer should fully involve and engage the relevant trade union(s) or employee representative(s) to review actions and outcomes and identify further improvements for advancing the fair work first commitments.The Scottish Government grant guidance and relevant guidance from other public funding bodies will be updated to incorporate Fair Work First monitoring requirements, and relevant templates will be provided. 

Public bodies' funding

In agreeing their annual priorities with relevant Scottish Government policy/sponsorship teams, public bodies should describe how they are meeting and/or intend to advance the Fair Work First criteria across their organisation and the timescales for doing so. They should confirm this has been agreed in collaboration with an appropriate workforce representative.  This should be from the relevant trade union where one is present, or workers representative(s) where there is no union present.

As part of the arrangements for monitoring service delivery, the public body should provide evidence of progress towards delivery of their Fair Work First commitments to the relevant policy/sponsorship team. The Scottish Government will confirm the information that public bodies will be expected to provide and appropriate guidance and template/s. 

Procurement

As part of the procurement process bidders may be asked, when relevant and proportionate to what is being purchased, to describe how, in performing the contract they will meet the Fair Work First criteria, as described on page 4 of this Guidance.

As part of the contact management process, the supplier may be asked to provide evidence that they are meeting the Fair Work First criteria, in line with the tender response.  

Given the importance of effective voice in fair work principles, while not a requirement on employers, it is strongly recommended that they engage with the workforce and unions, where they are present, in defining and monitoring the commitments they make to advancing fair work in the delivery of the contract during the life of the contact.


Contact

Email: jack.keays@gov.scot