What Next for Fair Work in Scotland? New publication by the Carnegie UK Trust sets out priorities to advance Scotland’s Fair Work agenda in the coronavirus era

March 19, 2021

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Today the Carnegie UK Trust has published a new report: What Next For Fair Work in Scotland?

With the approach of Scottish Parliament elections in May, the country is at a critical juncture, having spent the last year confronting COVID-19.

The Scottish Government has a strong pre-existing agenda dedicated to the achievement of ‘Fair Work’ – defined as that which offers opportunity, security, fulfilment, respect and effective voice -and a dedicated Fair Work Convention acts as an independent source of advice and scrutiny on Scotland’s progress towards becoming a ‘Fair Work Nation.’ However, COVID-19 has significantly altered the context in which that Fair Work agenda is being moved forward. The pandemic has severely impacted lives and livelihoods – but has also seen labour market interventions and business innovations that were previously unimaginable, and given rise to calls to build back a better labour market.

Our report considers the progress of Scotland’s Fair Work agenda so far, and sets out our recommendations about how Fair Work can continue to be advanced in a way that is responsive to the significant challenges and opportunities for change presented by the pandemic.

Our findings are based on the body of research conducted for our report Good Work for Wellbeing in the Coronavirus Economy. These are combined with new desk research, conducted to situate our recommendations in the context of the Scottish Government’s pre-existing Fair Work priorities and the policy levers it has deployed in response to the pandemic.

While many different actors -employers, public bodies, trade unions, and wider civil society –influence the achievement of Fair Work, our recommendations are focused on government in Scotland, looking ahead to what actions can be advanced in the next parliamentary session.

The Scottish Government’s existing commitment to and programme of Fair Work activities provides a strong foundation for Scotland to adapt to the challenges and opportunities exacerbated by COVID-19. Our report makes 18 recommendations for how progress can be sustained and Fair Work expanded to many more people, including that the Scottish Government should:

  • Increase support to grow ‘Fair Flexibility’ in Scotland.
  • Continue to articulate the compelling business case for Fair Work, starting with a ‘Fair Work in the Recovery’ campaign targeted at employers.
  • Support the delivery of a ‘Living Hours’ programme in Scotland.
  • Dedicate resources towards a renewed focus on work-related health and safety.
  • Continue to improve how Fair Work is measured in Scotland.

Read the full report and recommendations here.