Boosting productivity by developing Scotland as a world-leading Fair Work Nation

A photograph of Career Ready Interns at work in a food preparation facility


Key points:

  • We will deliver on the actions from our Fair Work Action Plan
  • We will deliver on the actions from our Future Skills Action Plan and Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland
  • We are applying fair work criteria from the Scottish Business Pledge to grants, other funding streams and public contracts

The Fair Work Convention’s vision, which the Scottish Government shares, is that 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 society.

To boost productivity, competitiveness and inclusive growth and to develop Scotland as a world-leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, in February 2019 we published a Fair Work Action Plan. This sets out the action we will take, working across the Scottish Government and with stakeholders to embed and mainstream fair work in Scottish workplaces and Ministerial portfolios, with the aim of Scotland being a Fair Work Nation.

Alongside the 2019 Programme for Government we have published Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan. This is an ambitious plan to re-orientate Scotland’s skills system so it continues to deliver for individuals, employers and the economy at large.

The plan accepts and endorses the recommendations made by the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board’s Future Skills Missions. It will build upon these, utilising the recommendations as themes for change across the skills system and against which we can implement, measure and report success.

At the heart of the plan is a recognition that a culture of shared in investment in training, retraining and upskilling must be created. To achieve this, a second phase of the plan, an engagement exercise to explore the skills system’s strengths and vulnerabilities with stakeholders, will be launched.

We have also published ‘A fairer Scotland for disabled people - Employment Action Plan’ in December 2018 setting out steps towards achieving our ambition to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half by 2038.


There are just under 1700 Living Wage accredited employers in Scotland, this is proportionately 5 times more than the rest of the UK

We are attaching fair work criteria to grants, other funding streams and public contracts to help ensure payment of the living wage, no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts, action to tackle the gender pay gap, investment in skills and training and genuine workforce engagement, such as trade union recognition. Following on from this, a Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan was launched in March 2019. A first for Scotland and for any UK administration. The aim of the Action Plan is to deliver a cross-government approach, tackling the causes of the inequality women face in the labour market. Equality for women is integral to the Scottish Government’s vision for inclusive growth. The plan will address labour market inequalities faced by women, particularly disabled women, minority ethnic women, older women, women from poorer socio economic backgrounds and women with caring responsibilities. The plan has over 60 actions that aim to reduce the gender pay gap in Scotland.

Our target is that by the end of this parliament, we will have extended fair work criteria to as many types of grant, funding steam and business support budget open to us. We will also extend the range of Scottish Government and public sector contracts that fair work criteria will apply to. Our ‘Fair Work First’ approach is being developed with trade unions, business and the public sector.

We are exploring options to develop support and advice for small, micro and Business Pledge employers to support fair work practices in their businesses including employing disadvantaged groups.

Key resources:

Scottish Business Pledge

Fair Work Convention

Scottish Government: Fair Work Practices in Procurement

Scottish Government: Fair work and pay