Fair Work Convention

Fair Work Convention Scotland, Effective Voice

Effective Voice

Effective voice is much more than just having a channel of communication available within organisations - though this is important.

Effective voice requires a safe environment where dialogue and challenge are dealt with constructively and where employee views are sought out, listened to and can make a difference.

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Fair Work Convention Scotland, Opportunity


It is a reasonable aspiration to want work that is fair - and for fair work to be available to everyone. Fair opportunity allows people to access and progress in work and employment and is a crucial dimension of fair work

Meeting legal obligations in terms of ensuring equal access to work and equal opportunities in work sets a minimum floor for fair work.

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Fair Work Convention Scotland, Security


Security of employment, work and income are important foundations of a successful life.

Predictability of working time is often a component of secure working arrangements.

While no one has complete security and stability of employment, income and work, security is an important aspect of fair work.

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Fair Work Convention Scotland, Fulfilment


For many people, work is a fulfilling part of their life. For others, work tasks, working conditions and the work environment make work unfulfilling.

Access to work that is as fulfilling as it is capable of being is an important aspiration of the Fair Work agenda. People have different views of what type of work is fulfilling for them.

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Fair Work Convention Scotland, Respect


Fair work is work in which people are respected and treated respectfully, whatever their role and status.

Respect involves recognising others as dignified human beings and recognising their standing and personal worth.

At its most basic, respect involves ensuring the health, safety and well-being of others.

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Fair Work Framework 2016

Section 1: the Fair Work Framework

The Vision and Framework for Fair Work in Scotland

The Vision

By 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and for society.

Defining Fair Work

Fair work is work that offers effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect; that balances the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers and that can generate benefits for individuals, organisations and society.

Fair Work Framework 2016

Understanding Fair Work and its Potential

Many people agree that work should be fair, and that fair work should be available to everyone no matter who they are. It isn't easy, however, to define fairness, and defining fairness subjectively - as something that is different for everyone - doesn't help to shape good practice or to inform policy-making.

We have drawn on international debates and research to define fairness in a way that is relevant for everyone in work, a way that can be applied across different jobs, employers, industries and sectors and that can be measured and improved on. We have drawn heavily on academic research particularly on job quality2, on trade union impact, on workplaceII relationships and practices that support job quality and on the importance of co-operation. We have also identified international examples where high productivity, more inclusive labour markets and greater equality co-exist, often supported by strong embedded partnership arrangements.

Based on the evidence of 'what works' and through our discussions with stakeholders, we have defined fair work through five dimensions: effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect. These dimensions cover the scope of workers to 'have a say' and to influence and change practices, how people can access and progress in work, the employment conditions they experience, the work that people do and how people are treated at work.

These five dimensions are important for two reasons:

  • National and international research identifies good practice within each of the dimensions that can create positive outcomes for workers, employers and for society.
  • Taken together, these dimensions have significant synergies. The dimensions can reinforce each other, creating a virtuous circle of practices, behaviours, attitudes and outcomes.

The model below3, developed by researchers at the Scottish Centre for Employment Research at the University of Strathclyde, captures how fair work is a crucial component in delivering high performing and innovative workplaces where workers and employers share the benefits of productive and innovative work, creating the potential for transformation towards inclusive economic growth for society as a whole.

Fair Work Framework 2016

The FITwork model summarises how fair work is a crucial ingredient in supporting the types of worker behaviours and attitudes that can create positive outcomes for individuals, employers and society. High performance work practices aim to generate the best business outcomes from worker talents and abilities, while workplace innovation practices create the space in which worker contribution can make a positive difference. Fair work overlaps with both types of practice but addresses the important question of why workers should and do invest more of themselves in work. By creating the conditions in which workers' skills and abilities are supported and developed, by promoting opportunities for skills and abilities to be deployed and by creating the motivation for workers to take up those opportunities, fair work as outlined here facilitates the discretionary efforts of workers that underpin high productivity, performance and innovation - all of which can contribute to healthier, wealthier and more inclusive societies.4

Fair work is consistent with business and economic success and the Fair Work Agenda represents an investment in Scotland's people, businesses, organisations, economic prosperity and social wellbeing. Fair work is not simply about a different distribution of the rewards from work - although this is important. It is about improving business and organisational outcomes so that there are more rewards to be shared. We know that poor quality work is more common in countries with lower levels of GDP per capita5. Trade unions have a crucial role to play both in istributing the 'returns' from work and in contributing to making workplaces more effective and prosperous for all.

In the pages that follow we outline the five dimensions of fair work that comprise our Framework. We outline what each dimension means, and how delivering fairness in each dimension can benefit employers, workers and society. We give a brief summary of what people have told us over the last year about each dimension. We then offer some ideas as to how fairness in each imension might be achieved. These ideas are not exhaustive but illustrative of some of the practical actions that might be taken to improve fairness at work.

There is much overlap between the dimensions, but we have focused on them discretely in order to provide a lens through which employers can evaluate their own approach and practices, orkers and their representatives can evaluate their own experience of work, and both can work together to identify areas where fairness might be enhanced. We also note some cross-cutting themes that are relevant across all of the dimensions of fair work.

Section 1 concludes with our key recommendation and our thoughts on who might help us deliver fair work, how they might do so and what may be the key levers of change.

Section 1 can be read on its own as our Fair Work Framework. Section 2 provides an account of the background and policy context of the Fair Work Agenda in Scotland. It brings together a wide range of evidence that has informed the development of the Framework and gives a more expansive account of what we have learned in our consultation over the last year. In Section 2 we offer more detailed examples of fair work in practice. These examples do not imply perfection; rather, they offer practical insight into how key elements of fairness can be achieved.

IIThroughout this report we use the term 'workplace' to include both a discrete place of work (an office or a factory, for example) and any location where people carry out work (for example, delivering care services in someone's home).


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