4. Fairer Working Lives
Action 42 – Do More to Promote The Living Wage
We have already done a lot to promote the Living Wage in Scotland. The Scottish Government has long championed the payment of the Living Wage and the real benefits to our economy of treating people who work more fairly. Scotland remains the best performing of all four UK countries, with the highest proportion of employees paid the real Living Wage or more (80.6%).
Having reached the target of having 1000 accredited Living Wage employers, we commit to lifting at least 25,000 more people onto the real Living Wage. Over the next three years the Scottish Government will work with the Poverty Alliance, providing £340,000 of funding in 2018-19 to them, to build a 'Living Wage Nation', boosting the wages of those on low pay and supporting inclusive growth. There will be a focus on the hospitality and tourism sectors, where there are many low paid jobs. These sectors are dominated by women workers, the majority of whom work part-time.
The new Living Wage hourly rate of £9.00 in Scotland was announced by the First Minister on 5 November 2018. This is a voluntary rate set by the Living Wage Foundation. During Living Wage Week Ministers visited 13 employers across Scotland to celebrate the commitment of accredited Living Wage employers, and the positive impacts for their employees.
Action 43 – Do More to Help People In Scotland to Work Flexibly
While powers over flexible working are reserved to the UK Government, the Scottish Government recognises that this is a key component in enhancing staff retention and recruitment. To encourage flexible working practices, we continue to fund Family Friendly Working Scotland, a collaborative partnership with Working Families, Parenting Across Scotland and Fathers Network Scotland. Through this partnership, established in 2014, the Scottish Government works with a number of third sector organisations to support and promote the development of family friendly working across Scotland and to promote the 'Happy to Talk Flexible Working' strapline for job adverts to highlight a job can be done on a flexible basis.
Family Friendly Working Scotland continue to offer practical support to employers and to share best practice while raising awareness of the benefits around flexible and family friendly working in Scotland through a range of programmes and campaigns. These include Scottish Top Employers for Working Families Awards, National Work Life Week and planning for Scotland's first employer Flexible Festival in October 2019.
Employability and Discrimination
Action 44 – Improve Employment Services for Disabled People
In A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People, we set out our ambition to reduce the disability employment gap by more than half. The most recent Annual Population Survey data shows a reduction in the gap from 37.4% in 2016 to 35.8% in 2017. Although all the employment related commitments in A Fairer Scotland for Disabled people have been implemented or commenced, we recognise we must go further.
On 11 December 2018, Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills launched A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan, which sets out the cross-Government steps we will take towards our ambition and the timeline for achieving it. In the plan we commit to achieve our ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap over the next 20 years which we believe is both ambitious but realistic.
The actions in the plan fall within three priority areas: working with employers; supporting disabled people into work, and improving transitions from school for young people. The Scottish Government is committed to demonstrating leadership as an employer and will set targets for the employment of disabled people. We will invest in supporting disabled parents towards and into work in areas where child poverty is high and disability employment rates are low. We will also invest in developing support for employers through a new Public Social Partnership, and pilot support similar to Access to Work for disabled people to undertake work experience or work trials.
Action 45 – Launch A Pilot 'Returners' Project Help Bring Experienced Women Back into The Workplace After A Career Break
We have delivered on our commitment for a Returner's Programme to assist women to re-enter the workforce following a career break. This included an award of nearly £50,000 to Equate Scotland to provide 40 women with support to re-enter the STEM labour market, and funding of more than £185,000 to a further six projects to address the under-representation of women in the finance, security and manufacturing sectors. These projects also helped increase business start-up rates for women and the number of women in senior positions and encouraged men into childcare. One project specifically supported black and minority ethnic women back into the workplace. Placements are ongoing and we will evaluate these by summer 2019.
The Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills opened the £750,000 Workplace Equality Fund in February 2018. The aim of the Workplace Equality Fund is to reduce employment inequalities so that everyone – irrespective of age, disability, gender or race – has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. A total of nine projects were awarded funding in the first round and another thirteen in the second round. Of these, three projects are specially focused on supporting women to return to work.
In our Programme for Government, we have stated that we will invest £5 million over the next three years to support around 2,000 women to return to work.
Action 46 – Tackle Discrimination on Pregnancy and Maternity Leave in The Workplace
The Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Working Group has been actively promoting advice and guidance and sharing examples of good practice on these issues to employers around Scotland and via the Business Pledge website. In order to strengthen employer advice to ensure that work environments are safe and healthy for pregnant women and new mothers, the Scottish Government is helping to ensure websites such as Ready Steady Baby, NHS Inform and The Parent Club include links to relevant pregnancy and maternity guidance.
The Scottish Government has developed a communications strategy around the benefits of employers having positive pregnancy and maternity policies. This details forthcoming events where positive pregnancy and maternity messages, tailored to appropriate sectors and audiences, are being included within Ministerial speeches, stakeholder events or related media channels.
In recognition of the pregnancy and maternity related issues faced by employees and employers in certain sectors, the Working Group has helped to shape and draft the criteria of the Workplace Equality Fund, aimed at supporting businesses to identify and promote practice to reduce employment inequalities, discrimination and barriers. The Scottish Government also funded the Growing Up in Scotland Maternal Employment research, published on 1 November 2017. This explored changes to mothers' employment status and trajectories over the first five years of their child's life, examining the characteristics of mothers unable to find paid work and the main barriers they face.
Email: Daniel Paterson