Foreword by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
I am pleased to set out the Scottish Government's Public Sector Pay Strategy for 2023-24. Our intention is to balance the fairness, affordability, and fiscal sustainability of pay awards in recognition of a tight financial outlook. It reflects the need for public service reform, where decisions on pay and the size and shape of the public sector workforce must be connected to the effective delivery of public services.
The exceptional economic turmoil over the past year and the associated fiscal pressures sets an important context for pay decisions for 2023-24. The Pay Strategy reflects the Scottish Government’s limited funding position as set out in the 2023-24 Scottish Budget. It also takes account of the impact that high inflation has had on households and governments whilst balancing the need for sustainable public services.
These challenges have led to a level of industrial unrest on a scale not witnessed for over a decade. The 2022-23 pay negotiations have underlined the value of a partnership approach: one that is based on trust, collaboration, and open and meaningful dialogue between employers, trade unions and government. Pay deals are stronger when underpinned by Fair Work principles and collective bargaining arrangements. This Pay Strategy advocates that pay negotiations continue in this way and deliver progressive pay awards. Delivery of further measures for the low paid including cash underpins and pay caps for high earners should form part of a progressive, affordable, and sustainable solution. The Scottish Government has supported payment of the real Living Wage since 2011.
This Pay Strategy supports our commitment to tackle poverty including our commitment to the real Living Wage of £10.90, across the devolved public sector in Scotland. In balancing fairness, sustainability and flexibility, this Pay Strategy sets a range for pay awards for 2023-24 to be agreed between employers and Trade Unions and sets an expectation that business efficiencies and workforce changes will be required for public bodies to go beyond the 2% pay assumption set in the Resource Spending Review. This Government remains committed to our no compulsory redundancy position, which has been in place since 2007.
The Pay Strategy builds on changes to working practices over the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It strengthens the direction set previously for employers to work towards standardising to a 35-hour working week. It also maintains our commitment to a four-day working week public sector pilot to determine our future policy. The Pay Strategy goes further to support the public sector workforce by implementing a Right to Disconnect policy – providing a balance between the opportunities and flexibility offered by technology and our new ways of working, while supporting the need for staff to feel able to switch off from work.
I would like to acknowledge the vital contribution of public sector workers in Scotland. The high-quality services provided by the public sector workforce are at the centre of improving outcomes for the people of Scotland. I value the strong working relationships I have with Trade Unions and employers and remain committed to building on these as we continue our journey towards building a stronger, fairer, and more prosperous Scotland.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister, and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
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