Fair Work First: guidance

Outlines our Fair Work First approach and exemplifies the Fair Work First criteria in practice. It should be used by those involved in awarding public sector grants, sponsorship and other funding, and contracts, and those seeking to access/accessing such funding and/or contracts.

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 across the labour market in Scotland by applying fair work criteria to grants, other funding and contracts being awarded by and across the public sector, where it is relevant to do so. Through this approach the Scottish Government is asking employers to adopt fair working practices, specifically:

  • appropriate channels for effective 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;
  • * payment of the real Living Wage;

And, from October 2021:

  • offer flexible and family friendly working practices for all workers from day one of employment; and
  • oppose the use of fire and rehire practice.

Note: * those involved in procurements should refer to the Statutory Guidance, Best Practice guidance and toolkit to understand how to consider fair pay for workers, including payment of the real Living Wage, in the procurement process.

These criteria seek to address particular challenges in the labour market, to make a real difference to people and their communities, business and other organisations and the economy. The criteria and guidance have been updated to reflect two additional elements, on flexible working practices and the use of fire and rehire, in recognition of specific issues raised during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The value of Fair Work First was highlighted by the Advisory Group for Economic Recovery (AGER) in its June 2020 report, where it recognised Fair Work First as a form of conditionality which encourages and rewards employers adopting fair work practices, and which is encouraging good practice.


Email: katie.irvine@gov.scot

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