National Partnership for Culture: independent report

Recommendations from the independent National Partnership for Culture.

4. Fair Work

4.1 A national network of free support should be available for freelance, and self-employed, artists and creative practitioners, providing training opportunities and HR support comparable to what would be available to those in salaried employment.

Fair Work is an outcome in itself and also key to supporting the Culture Strategy aim of developing the skills and conditions for culture to thrive through valuing and supporting a diverse creative workforce for their vital contribution to society and the economy.

The Culture Strategy highlights that the culture sector comprises a growing expert workforce, with a high level of self-employment and project-based working. The Scottish Government's vision is for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025. The Fair Work Framework states that individuals should be offered an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment, and respect, balancing the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers.

Many of the large organisations in the culture sector are working towards the Fair Work Nation target and work effectively in partnership with Trade Unions, developing employee networks, partnership meetings and surveys. However, there is an ongoing tension in the culture sector between salaried employment and freelance, and self-employed, working. An inherent inequity emerges when rights afforded to salaried employees are not extended to freelance or self-employed workers, raising concerns about the sustainability of careers in the culture sector for freelancers and the self-employed.

As well as lack of HR support, access to training and ongoing skills development for freelancers, and the self-employed, is a significant barrier. The culture sector faces issues of bullying, a lack of maternity or paternity leave and contracts which are often written to the detriment of workers.[17] The cost of training courses is high, and loss of earnings due to time taken means training is often not a viable option unless culture professionals are able to support themselves without paid work. This means opportunities are more likely to be open to privileged individuals who have a financial support network, which limits diversity (particularly socio-economic) in the sector. Where training initiatives have been introduced, they are often aimed at young people and those new to the workforce, with less provision for freelancers or self-employed workers already in the sector.[18]

To support freelance and self-employed culture professionals, the Scottish government should support the development of a free network of support for freelance and self-employed workers in the culture sector to provide the training opportunities and HR support afforded to those in employment. Historic Environment Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, National Museums Scotland, National Library of Scotland, and Creative Scotland are committed to promoting Fair Work practices within their organisations and the organisations they fund. Each of these organisations invest in workforce development, support learning and development and provide employees with training and progression opportunities. Resource and lessons learned from these practices should be harnessed to support the development of equivalent provision for freelance and self-employed professionals.

4.2 The Scottish Government must commit to enforcing and monitoring the Fair Work practices of any organisation in receipt of public funding.

Adopting Fair Work practices is not currently a condition of funding for Public Bodies through the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Portfolio. While Public Bodies support the principle of Fair Work and, on the whole, promote Fair Work practices, there is no clear picture as to the extent that these practices are enforced and the impact of this on the culture sector workforce.

Recovery and renewal of the culture sector cannot happen fully without a stronger sector, where work is less precarious and the importance of creative skills to society is valued more widely and supported accordingly. To facilitate this, the Scottish Government should continue to advocate Fair Work practices and the paying of the living wage for everyone in the cultural and creative workforce.

Where public funding is distributed, Fair Work principles should be enforced by the Scottish Government and its agencies through grant offers. A policy on Fair Work does not in itself ensure that these practices are effectively adhered to, so it is vital to set this alongside a commitment to monitor implementation and compliance. The Scottish Government, and the agencies that distribute public funding should set clear expectations, via offer letters, of what organisations should provide as evidence of Fair Work in practice.



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