Fairer Scotland Action Plan

Fifty actions to help tackle poverty, reduce inequality and build a fairer and more inclusive Scotland.

Fairer Working Lives

Fair work was a strong focus in the Fairer Scotland conversations. A decent standard of living - having a job that treated people fairly and paid a living wage - was a key theme. Support for flexible jobs and flexible working was also seen as vital, as was an end to discrimination - for example, on the grounds of disability or pregnancy and maternity - and active support for people who need help to get back into the labour market or to boost their work prospects and progress. We need to make the most of the talent and energy of all Scotland's people to create a stronger, more inclusive economy for the benefit of everyone.

In August, we published a Labour Market Strategy (see page 64), with a range of actions the Scottish Government will take to help make working lives fairer, including our continued support for the Fair Work Convention. Below we focus on actions around the Living Wage, promoting good flexible working, employability and tackling discrimination in employment.

Decent Pay

In-work poverty is an increasing concern. In 2014-15, two thirds of children in poverty were living in families where someone was working. The UK National Living Wage is welcome, but is set at a lower rate than the real Living Wage and doesn't cover all employees, with those under 25 not protected.

Action 42

We will do more to promote the Living Wage. Decent wages for all are vital if we are to tackle in-work poverty and, as a reflection of that, all public bodies in Scotland now pay the Living Wage. To move forward across the labour market, we have set a new target of 1,000 Accredited Living Wage employers by autumn 2017 and have increased funding for the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative to £300,000 to achieve this. We are also now targeting larger employers to maximise the value of our investment.

New Labour Market Strategy

In August, the Scottish Government published a Labour Market Strategy, which sets out how we will boost economic growth in a way that shares the benefits of our economic success. Our focus is on jobs - more jobs; better quality jobs; jobs that work for every business in terms of innovation, competiveness, productivity and sustainable growth; and jobs that work for every individual in terms of skills, pay, security, and prospects.

Our workforce is one of Scotland's strongest assets but it is not simply a commodity to be deployed, it's an asset to be invested in, developed and supported. We will work with businesses to address the challenges of the vote in the EU Referendum, and demographic and technological change. We will support businesses to grow and to help their workforces share in their success.

"Inclusion Scotland pledges to seize every opportunity to ensure that disabled people are fully included in the delivery and future development of all aspects of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan. We will work to promote disabled people's human rights, access to independent living and equal citizenship. Through our Access to Elected Office Fund for Scotland and Access to Politics project we will help to address the under-representation of disabled people in politics and public life."

Dr Sally Witcher OBE, Chief Executive Officer Inclusion Scotland

Dr Sally Witcher OBE,
Chief Executive Officer
Inclusion Scotland

Flexible Working

Flexibility in employment needs to benefit employees as well as employers - parents and carers often want to work part-time or to job share but can find it difficult to find working arrangements that suit them. Good flexible working arrangements can benefit employers - and all of us as employees in our working lives.

Action 43

We will do more to help people in Scotland work flexibly.

  • We will ensure that the Scottish Government's own approach to flexible working in recruitment, promotion and 'managed moves' is a model for the rest of the public sector. We will also encourage the wider take-up of the 'Happy to Talk' strapline on job adverts, moving to an assumption of 'flexible by default' and asking managers to justify advertising a role non-flexibly.
  • By the end of 2016, we will commission a Flexible Jobs Index for Scotland to determine the availability of genuinely flexible jobs that meet the needs of people who want to work flexibly. Evidence suggests that many parents (and others) who want to return to work, work more hours, and progress their careers are looking for flexible jobs but that these are hard to find. Evidence also suggests that a focus on flexible job design is vital for tackling the gender pay gap. However, the landscape in Scotland and the wider UK requires significant development to maximise these benefits, particularly for staff on low incomes. A Flexible Jobs Index would be a first step and we will fund Timewise, a social enterprise, to deliver this. The Index will analyse the current ratio of quality jobs advertised as open to flexibility by city/region, by role, type and sector and by salary band. The Index will also identify the level of demand for flexibility in Scotland and the proportion of people who need to work flexibly, and who could raise their living standards by doing so. We will use the Index as a key step to promoting flexi-recruitment and other good working practices in the private sector.
  • In 2017, we will pilot mentoring on flexi-recruitment issues for small and medium sized enterprises ( SMEs), building on existing support services. The recently published Small Business Survey 12 suggests that there is considerable scope for improvements in the flexible working offer SMEs make to their employees: over 40% of firms offered none of the key flexible working arrangements to their staff. We will also further develop our network of Family Friendly Working Champions and explore how advice on developing flexi working could be made available via the Mygov.scot webpages relevant to businesses.

"Timewise and Family Friendly Working Scotland, a partnership including the Scottish Government, will work together to maximise the potential for flexible working in Scotland. Timewise will produce the first ever Flexible Jobs Index for Scotland - to analyse the current ratio of quality jobs advertised as open to flexible or part time working at the point of hire, and identify the proportion of people who need to work flexibly, and who could raise their living standards by doing so.

We will use the findings from the index to build a case for change to support both the Scottish Government and employers to design and advertise quality jobs as 'open to flexible working options' at the point of hire.

Family Friendly Working Scotland will also encourage and support employers across Scotland to use the Happy to Talk Flexible Working strapline in job adverts."

Emma Stewart, CEO of Timewise

Emma Stewart,
CEO of Timewise

Nikki Slowey, Programme Director, Family Friendly Working Scotland

Nikki Slowey,
Programme Director,
Family Friendly Working Scotland

"Working Families is proud to be a partner in the Family Friendly Working Scotland programme. We pledge to help the Scottish Government build a fairer Scotland by sharing our experience of working with and supporting SMEs to introduce flexible working.

We will advise on mentoring which we have carried out in Wales, and share the toolkit and guidance on job design and flexible hiring which we are developing with Welsh SMEs. We will also make available to SMEs in Scotland the Working Families SME online benchmark, so that owner-managers can assess the culture and practice of their own businesses and understand the changes they can make for more effective and fairer employment."

Sarah Jackson OBE, CEO Working Families

Sarah Jackson OBE,
CEO Working Families

Employability And Discrimination

We will also look to our new employability programmes to ensure greater opportunity for all in the labour market, and we will tackle discrimination wherever

we find it. The Fairer Scotland conversations included calls for further inclusion of disabled people across all areas of society, particularly with respect to finding employment and in skills attainment across education.

Action 44

We will improve employment services for disabled people. Using new and existing powers to provide more effective and joined up support for disabled people in the labour market is a key priority for the Government. As part of the new Scottish employment service from 2018, there will be a distinct offer for disabled people, including tailored and personalised provision for those for whom work is a reasonable objective. In addition, we will sharpen the focus of our current programmes such as Scotland's Employer Recruitment Incentive and Community Jobs Scotland to support more young disabled people. We will also use the Scottish Business Pledge and other employer networks to raise awareness of the skills and capacity of the disabled workforce and their positive impact on company productivity and profitability.

Action 45

By the end of 2016, we will launch a pilot 'Returners' project to help bring experienced women back into the workplace after a career break. Evidence suggests that many women struggle to return to work due to a lack of access to flexible working that enables them support for care commitments. As a result they can find their job choices limited and can experience pay inequality, underemployment, job insecurity, a lack of opportunities for development and career progression, and both implicit and explicit age discrimination. They can also feel a loss of confidence and relevant skills after being out of the workforce, especially in sectors where technology has moved on at a rapid pace. The Scottish Government will work with employers across the country to pilot a 'Returners' project which will help women update skills and knowledge and smooth the transition back into the workplace for both women and employers.

Action 46

We will tackle discrimination on pregnancy and maternity leave in the workplace. Up to 54,000 women across Great Britain experience some form of pregnancy and maternity discrimination every year. Many women report having been dismissed or made compulsorily redundant where others in their workplaces were not, or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their jobs. We will take a range of action to address this in Scotland as follows:

First, a new working group, chaired by the Minister for Training and Skills, will create guidance to encourage best employment practice and to help with effective monitoring and reporting on employment-related pregnancy and maternity issues. The group will be supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and will meet quarterly.

Second, we will include best practice in managing pregnancy and maternity issues appropriately within the Scottish Business Pledge.

Third, we will abolish fees for employment tribunals, once we are clear on how the transfer of powers and responsibilities will work. The Scottish Government strongly opposed the introduction of employment tribunal fees on the basis that it restricts access to justice and creates a financial barrier for legitimate claims. Since fees were introduced we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of cases being taken forward. Ministry of Justice statistics released in September 2016 show a two thirds reduction in single claims in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2013. We will remove this barrier and ensure those who have been unfairly treated due to their pregnancy or maternity - and all those who have received wider discrimination or unfair treatment - can seek redress.

"Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland pledges to help the Scottish Government support innovative approaches to tackling poverty and deprivation. As well as continuing to be a thoughtful grant-maker, we will work differently to reach the communities that historically have accessed very little charitable funding. We will enable a shift in the balance of power so that people are in the driving seat, taking decisions and having more control of their own lives, with the Foundation and our partners listening, supporting and enabling changes that may seem small, but which collectively will help build lasting social change."

Fiona Duncan, Chief Executive, Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland

Fiona Duncan,
Chief Executive,
Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland -
At the heart of funding Scotland's charities


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