Fair Work Framework 2016
The Fair Work Convention makes one overarching recommendation: that organisations deliver fair work in the dimensions outlined here, providing effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect.
How can this recommendation become a reality? In the Fair Work Landscape we outline on page 27, we do two things.
First, we put workplace activity at the heart of fair work. Fair work must be located in the workplace and delivered by employers and workers and, where present, union representatives.
We invite everyone involved in the workplace to assess critically whether their current practice supports our ambition and can help deliver fair work. To do this, it is important to think about how to apply the Framework in a particular business context; to benchmark policy, practice, behaviours and outcomes against our overarching ambition for fair work and what this means in each of its dimensions; to verify the evidence used to make such an assessment; and to assess and identify the appropriate actions and timescales necessary to make progress and to review and improve in response to changing circumstances.
Second, while those directly involved in the workplace must own fair work at workplace level, other stakeholders also have an important role to play. There are a wide range of interested parties and organisations in the fair work landscape, some of which we capture in our diagram on page 27.
These stakeholders possess different levers. Many of the workers and campaigning organisations who spoke to us pointed to legislation and regulation and wanted to see a strengthening of employment protection, easier access to remedies for breaches of rights, better access to employment tribunals without the barrier of high fees and better enforcement of employment tribunal awards. Many of the legislative powers that are relevant to fair work are reserved to Westminster and are matters for the UK Government. In relation to Scotland, some stakeholders expressed a desire for greater use of existing regulatory and enforcement powers to support fair work, for example, through more searching use of the public sector equality duty.
Others focused on who could deter bad practice and how. Workers at the mercy of the most unfair employment and work practices and campaigning groups who represent them believed that sanctions (including naming and shaming) against very poor employers can be an appropriate lever, such as happens in relation to non-payment of the National Minimum Wage. It is very
widely accepted that a suite of proportionate sanctions is necessary to respond to unacceptable employment practices and to signal the seriousness with which our society views these matters.
More positively, levering fair work might include incentivising good practice. Customers and consumers hold an important lever that can incentivise fair work when they choose to buy goods and services from organisations with fair employment practices. Procurement - by government and the public sector - is also an important lever. Crucially, public contracting can be creative in delivering good use of scarce public resources without sacrificing fair work in the process. Support from the public agencies - finance and expertise - can both encourage and reward fair work practices.
Good practice examples are likely to identify role models and ambassadors who illustrate a commitment to practice - leading by example or 'walking the talk'. Role models also help show how to address the challenges of fair work in a practical setting - a particular firm size, a sector, an industry, a union or a location - while ambassadors show how to drive change. Organisations as well as individuals can be role models, and government and the public sector should lead by example. But we invite all organisations to address and improve fair work, creating role models and ambassadors across Scotland.
Sharing information, learning, advice and support will also enable fair work. Many stakeholders have a role to play in supporting shared learning - across union networks, peer learning across employers and between and across civil society organisations - particularly government, the public agencies and educational institutions. (More information and signposting of advice on good practice is given at the end of this document and, moving forward, the Fair Work convention website will host this and other information).
A significant lever - and one that can be used by everyone with an interest in work - is making and winning a positive case for change that delivers fair work. Having a clear purpose, making an evidence-based argument, outlining practical steps towards fair work and disseminating widely is necessary, particularly in terms of knowing what a fair workplace looks like. A positive case for change that supports fair work also needs to be flexible and responsive to dynamic organisational, market, economic and social conditions.
Beyond this, awareness and ownership of the Fair Work Agenda and its potential is key - ownership not by government or politicians, nor by any sectional interest, but by employers, workers, unions and consumers collectively. For this reason we have offered a framework against which employers, workers and their union representatives where present, can benchmark fair work - rather than recommending an accreditation for fair work, for which our consultation showed little desire. The framework can unite and support a 'coalition of the willing' to lead change that delivers fair work.
As a Convention, we invite everyone involved in the world of work - employers and workers, government and its agencies; union, employer and industry bodies; the education system; the media; consumers and civil society - to assess rigorously what they currently do to support the Convention's vision and those who deliver it in the workplace; and to work with the Convention to consider what additional actions they might take. All parts of the political, economic and civic community can exercise leadership in this space and support our ambition for fair work as well as supporting those who can implement it in the workplace.
We also challenge ourselves, as the Fair Work Convention, to support proactively the implementation and evolution of the Framework. Moving forward, there is work to be done to advise, challenge constructively and support stakeholders; to collect and disseminate information on effective practice; to use our convening role to bring together employers, unions and workers to
facilitate learning and change; to help signpost sources of information and advice; to identify areas (industries or occupations) requiring priority attention, and to take responsibility for identifying and monitoring country-level measures of progress.