Independence: what you need to know

Information about Scotland's future.

Supporting business and fair work

The Scottish Government’s policies for an independent Scotland at a glance

  • joining the European Union, providing access to the world’s largest single market with reduced barriers to trade, and access to a large labour and consumer market
  • using new powers over employment and equality laws, industrial relations and social security  
  • setting a fair national minimum wage
  • stronger flexible working approaches supporting workers on short-term or zero-hours contracts 
  • creating a Scottish constitution that protects the right to strike
  • supporting the economy, with a migration system informed by Scotland’s needs

Fair work

On independence, Scotland would assume control of employment, equality, industrial relations and social security powers currently held by the UK Government. This would make it possible to develop a new, transformative approach to fair work.

This Scottish Government’s proposal is that an independent Scotland would apply to re-join the European Union (EU) as soon as possible. People in Scotland would benefit from having some of their employment rights, including guaranteed minimum working conditions, protected by EU law.

Building on current fair work policy and learning from the best-performing European nations, this government would take forward measures including:

  • setting a fair national minimum wage, better reflecting the cost of living in Scotland. The minimum wage would be set at the same level for all age groups, benefitting younger people
  •  strengthening access to flexible working to give parents and carers, most of whom are women, more choice over how to balance caring and employment responsibilities 
  • introducing greater transparency in pay reporting to help address Scotland’s gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps 
  • reversing unfair labour laws recognising that good industrial relations and active trade unions help build a stronger, fairer country 
  • introducing a law to help workers organise co-operative buyouts or rescues when a business is up for sale or under threat 
  • considering a higher minimum standard for statutory sick pay and parental leave, and ensuring statutory public holidays no longer count towards minimum leave entitlements

Scotland would also have a new constitution – a set of written rules and laws that determine how a country works - created with input from the people in Scotland. This government proposes that the constitution should also protect rights, including workers’ rights such as the right to strike.

Read more about fair work in the economy paper.

Supporting key sectors via new visas

The ability to set immigration policy after independence would give an opportunity for a flexible and open approach to migration, which could respond to the needs of all parts of the economy. It would also help to attract workers and their families to rural areas and islands, helping to boost populations in those places. You can read more about these visas in the migration section of these pages, or in the migration paper.

European Union membership and business

This Scottish Government’s proposal is that an independent Scotland would apply to re-join the EU as soon as possible.

The EU single market is seven times the size of the UK so by being in the EU, Scottish businesses would be able to sell to more customers and trade freely with more businesses. EU membership would also provide Scotland’s businesses access to a larger labour market with no restrictions on employing EU citizens to work in Scotland, sustaining businesses, universities, communities and public services.

As a member of the EU, an independent Scotland could also influence future EU regulations and standards in ways that reflect the interests of Scottish businesses.

You can read more about EU membership and business in the European Union section of these pages, or in the An independent Scotland in the EU paper.

Back to top