Fair Work Ministerial Working Group minutes: November 2018

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 28 November 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Mr Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills

Attending Ministers:

  • Ms Campbell – Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government
  • Ms Gougeon – Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment
  • Mr Dey – Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans
  • Ms Denham – Minister for Community Safety
  • Ms McKelvie – Minister for Older People and Equalities

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Mr Hepburn welcomed attendees and provided a brief overview of fair work. Ms Campbell expressed a need for a collaborative approach across portfolio areas, learning for example on the £12 million Parental Support Fund. 

Terms of reference

Amendment – Provide Ministers with Officials Working Group meeting read outs

Amendment – Group should also encompass the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan

Ministers otherwise agreed with the terms.

Fair Work Policy and achievements to date

Ministers discussed the table of activity to support fair work across portfolios.

Portfolios which are currently blank need to be explored and populated by responsible officials – Ministers and officials to follow up. For example, the work being undertaken on veterans through the Armed Forces Covenant, which includes work to support veterans into work and the Scottish Government recruitment policy on veterans. Education also needs to be covered, in relation to educating the future workforce/managers/business owners around workplace expectations and challenging gender stereotyping.

Expressed a need for a cohesive approach across Government which demonstrates tangible momentum.

Fair Work Action Plan

Develop a core narrative tailored for each portfolio which can be used by Ministers, officials and stakeholders to promote clear and consistent messaging around fair work and its role in supporting improvements on tackling poverty and economic growth. The narrative should be framed within the context of the NPF, inclusive growth, Scotland’s Economic Strategy making clear the compelling business case for fair work.  

Ministers expressed a desire for a ‘single gateway’ for becoming a fair work employer which would offer cohesive information to business through a single point of access. 

In this context, Ministers highlighted the plethora of ‘asks’ of employers and cautioned the need to be careful that business are not overloaded with requests to support SG policy interventions.    

The introduction of specific accreditation for ‘fair work employers’ was mooted; Mr Hepburn pointed out that an all-encompassing fair work accreditation could be too much for some businesses and have a negative impact on business getting on board with the agenda. It was felt that the Ministerial group would be an opportunity for bringing together key asks.

It is important to ensure that social enterprises (part of wider third sector) recognise that they are included within the Fair Work First offer.  

Both the Fair Work and Gender Pay Gap Action Plans should acknowledge the post Brexit landscape and the labour market squeeze this may bring. Ministers agreed that it will be important for employers to be ‘ethical employers’ in order to attract and retain workers.

It was proposed that early years policy should be included within Ministerial Working Group and officials group.

Need to ensure SG is an exemplar employer (seen to lead) – the fair work agreement between trade unions and Ministers.

Ms McKelvie suggested it would be useful to include examples of SG-funded interventions that are already making a difference, e.g. Jobs Grant. 

Gender Pay Gap Action Plan

Ms McKelvie suggested Dr Lesley Sawyers, a highly credible authority on in- business improvement linked to equality and diversity in the workplace, would be a useful business network contact.

Ms Campbell highlighted the need to make sure that links were being made between the Tackling Child Poverty Action Plan and the Gender Pay gap Action Plan. In particular officials should consider what data can be included to demonstrate the impact tackling the gender pay gap has on poverty levels.

Ms Gougeon stated that both Fair Work Action Plan and the Gender Pay gap action plan are hugely relevant to the rural economy. Need to make sure that the plan takes into account the different types of sectors within rural economy. 

Ms Denholm reflected on the evidence that was provided during the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee’s enquiry into the gender pay gap. In particular the importance of imagery within young children’s books. Mr Hepburn stated that this issue had been discussed during the stakeholder discussion events and that this is the reason why there is an action for Education Scotland to develop an action plan for tackling gender stereotyping within education. 

Ms McKelvie pointed the close links between the proposed actions within the GPG Action Plan and the draft recommendations from the FM Advisory Council.


There was some discussion about the timings of the publication of the Plans. Ministers agreed that both plans should be published in early 2019 with the FWAP being published prior to the GPGAP.

Action plans should dovetail each other.

It was agreed that there was merit in a phased publication approach (with targeted promotion to maintain/build momentum – see below), for example the:

  • FW Action Plan in mid-February and
  • GPG Action Plan on International Women’s Day (8 March)


  • merit in holding thematic debates over an extended period on a semi-regular basis. Short and regular, i.e. one every 3 months
  • include fair work on agenda for Ministerial visits – opportunity to showcase fair work employers and thread fair and inclusive work through Ministerial portfolios
  • optimise social media
  • consider Parliamentary statements


  • opportunity to have consistent fair work branding


No additional business raised by attending Ministers.


  • provide read outs of officials working group meetings to Ministerial Working Group
  • eEnsure that the next Ministerial Working Group meeting happens before June
  • explore gaps in portfolio touchpoints with fair work and populate the table with activity to support fair work
  • share a copy of the Disability Action Plan and Gender Pay Gap Action Plan with the Ministerial Working Group
  • prior to publishing the Action Plans, provide Ministerial Working Group with a list of stakeholders engaged with developing both the FW and GPG Action Plans
  • officials to liaise with Comms re publication and promotional activity – all aiming to coalesce a cross-SG effort
  • provide Ministerial Working Group with overall timeline for publication / next steps including communications plan
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