The Scottish Government’s ‘Fair Work’ agenda is a positive move, but more needs to be done to drive up employment standards and eliminate poor working practices, according to a report by the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.
The Committee has today published a report following a significant inquiry into the issue of work, wages and wellbeing. It believes there are a number of areas where public money could be better used to support businesses to improve their employment practices.
These would include an adjustment to the priorities of the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies, an enhanced Scottish Business Pledge and a stronger emphasis on fair work practices through public procurement.
The Committee was told of an increase in poor quality jobs and low paid exploitative zero hours contracts since the start of the 2008 recession.
Convener of the Committee, Murdo Fraser MSP said:
“We heard from people across Scotland that they not only want a job that uses their skills, but also to work in an environment that is supportive, where they have a voice, and are respected.
“All the evidence we heard suggests that there has been a decline in job quality in recent years and our Committee wants to see this trend reversed. Whilst employment statistics point to an increase to those in work, if we look beyond the figures, we have uncovered a worrying trend in poor quality employment.
“We concluded that to start to reverse this trend, we need to ensure that public money used to develop businesses supports an agenda that paves the way for a fair, sustainable economy.
“Millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money is spent every year supporting business development by our enterprise agencies, and on public procurement. It’s vital that this is spent in a way that encourages businesses to drive up employment standards.”
During the course of the inquiry, the Committee heard evidence that poor working practices had a detrimental effect on the economy. The Committee also heard of its negative impact on people’s health.
Deputy Convener of the Committee, Dennis Robertson MSP said:
“There is no doubt that the Scottish Government has made a public commitment to tackling poor working practices, particularly in their focus on implementing the Living Wage.
“We heard during our inquiry that poor quality work has a significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing. This has no place in modern day Scotland.
“By improving people’s quality of work we not only improve people’s health and wellbeing but also their productivity.”
The Committee issued a call for views in June. It received the written views from 42 organisations and individuals. It also issued a survey asking for views from members of the public, which received over 600 submissions. The inquiry took evidence from June – November and heard oral evidence from almost 30 organisations.