Fair Work Framework 2016
Section 2: Background, Evidence, Consultation and Examples
Background and Policy Context
The Fair Work Convention was created in April 2015 following a recommendation of the Working Together Review: Progressive Workplace Policies in Scotland to establish a stakeholder body that would produce a fair employment framework for Scotland. The Working Together Review recognised the positive impact of trade unions at individual, workplace, industry/sector and national level and unions' role in promoting progressive workplace practices that contribute to the health of the economy and civil society in Scotland.
Our membership is drawn from public, private and third sector employers, trade unions and academia. Set up to advise the Scottish Government, but independent from it, our first task was to report our initial considerations and our framework for fair work by March 2016.
We have consulted with a wide variety of individuals and organisations to help us in our work - organisations such as ACAS, IIPS, HSE and EHRC, employers' organisations, unions and union representatives - all of whom gave us insight into the challenges they faced in and across sectors and industries. We have also drawn on the information provided by a wide range of experts and
stakeholders we have consulted since March 2015, as well as a range of other insights from bodies such as Oxfam, Citizens Advice and the Jimmy Reid Foundation. While we do not fully report on all of their insights here9, this information has informed our deliberations. We thank everyone for their contribution.
We acknowledge the impact of labour market and economic challenges. Global economic developments - growth slowdown in major economies, falling oil prices, and continuing austerity - may exacerbate these challenges in the months and years to come, particularly if some of the recent more pessimistic prognoses are correct10. Closer to home, continued pressure on real
wages and changes to welfare benefits will continue to have real impact, while proposed changes in the Trade Union Bill risk undermining efforts to deliver fairer and more inclusive workplace policies and practices. A focus on fair work as a driver of competitive success and on co-operation as the route to fair work is of crucial importance given the challenges Scotland faces11.
People really are Scotland's key resource. Scotland invests heavily in its people through largely publicly funded education at all levels. We need to ensure that all people - with all of their talents and skills that have been invested in - have a chance to flourish in Scotland's workplaces. We believe that fair work is the mechanism through which people give of their best efforts and in so doing benefit themselves, their employers, Scotland's economy and society. Delivering fair work is, therefore, an investment in everyone and for everyone.
Fair work is more than adhering to minimum legal standards of employment protection and is much more than 'business as usual' - it is about fundamentally rethinking what happens in our workplaces. The importance of what goes on within workplaces was at the heart of the Working Together Review. Established against a backdrop of concerns over productivity and economic competitiveness on the one hand, and over levels of inequality on the other, since its publication there has been increasing recognition both internationally and nationally of the link between the two. The OECD12 has highlighted the role of inequality in constraining economic growth. Trade unions and other campaigning organisations have promoted policies and practices (such as, for example, the Living Wage and the extension of collective bargaining) that reduce inequality but also benefit the economy. Researchers have pointed to international evidence on the links between high quality work and good business and economic outcomes13.
The inextricable relationship between economic, social and individual wellbeing is now enshrined in the most recent Programme for Government14 and Scotland's Economic Strategy 2014, both of which outline the dual and linked objectives of improving competiveness and reducing inequality. Since 2014, and reflecting broader activity and influence by unions and other civil society organisations, the Scottish Government has promoted adoption of the Living Wage15 established a ministerial portfolio for Fair Work, Skills and Training, produced guidance supporting fair work in public sector procurement, established and promoted the Scottish Business Pledge that overlaps with key dimensions of fair work, supported the creation of the
workplace innovation service at Scottish Enterprise to drive constructive change in businesses, and supported collaborative research on fair, innovative and transformative work to enhance understanding and build evidence of its potential and impact.
Dialogue across stakeholders has been key to generating 'buy in' for fair work and related initiatives in Scotland. In 2015, the Scottish Government and the STUC signed a new Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to work together to create a wealthier and more equal society16. More broadly, an emerging debate is taking place in Scotland amongst those with an interest in the world of work and the labour market on the potential for constructive co-operation to address economic and social priorities.