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The knowledge bank

Fair Work overview

Fair Work is coming down the tracks for us all in Scotland. It is being driven by the Scottish Government primarily, and will affect publishers and literature organisations who employ people, but who also apply for funding to, for example, Creative Scotland, or the Enterprise Agencies.

Here are some of the aims and thinking behind the principles of Fair Work. We would encourage publishers to start familiarising themselves with the Action Plan.


The Scottish Government Fair Work Action Plan

The Scottish Government’s Fair Work: action plan (published 19 February 2021) sets out the strategic approach the Scottish Government is taking to help achieve the 2025 vision for Fair Work.

‘Fair Work First focuses on encouraging and supporting employers to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces where workers have security of pay and contract, can develop and utilise their skills and have an effective voice in the workplace. Through Fair Work First, the Scottish Government will use its financial power to make fair work the norm.

We are committed to working in partnership with employer organisations and employers representing a broad spectrum of sectors as we deliver Fair Work First. We are also committed to working with stakeholders as we develop and implement Fair Work First and determine how it should apply to employers of different size and sector and in different geographical areas. Our phased approach to implementation will take account of the economic context, including the impact of EU exit and COVID-19.

Fair Work First asks employers to commit to adopting the following criteria:

  • Appropriate channels for effective voice, such as trade union recognition.
  • Investment in workforce development.
  • No inappropriate use of zero hours contracts.
  • Action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Payment of the real Living Wage.

By the end of this Parliament (2025), wherever it is appropriate to do so, we will:

  • extend Fair Work First criteria to every type of grant, funding stream, and business support budget open to us; and
  • extend the range of Scottish Government and public sector contracts that Fair Work First criteria will apply to.

The actions the Scottish Government is taking through the Fair Work Action Plan cover three broad themes aiming to:

  1. Support employers to adopt Fair Work practices.
  2. Deliver Fair Work to a diverse and inclusive workforce.
  3. Embed Fair Work across the Scottish Government’


The Fair Work Convention

The Fair Work Convention, which independently advises the Scottish Government on Fair Work, published its Fair Work Framework in 2016. It sets a vision 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.

The Fair Work Framework defines Fair Work as work that offers:

  • effective voice,
  • respect,
  • security,
  • opportunity, and
  • fulfilment.

It balances the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers, and can generate benefits for individuals, organisations and society.

The Fair Work convention aims to put ‘fair work at the heart of Scotland’s workplaces and economy’.


Creative Scotland resources

One of Creative Scotland’s strategic priorities is Fair Work. On its website you can learn about Fair Work and find  a multitude of resources that support organisations, employers and individuals in Fair Work policies. See the Creative Scotland website.


Organisation and Employer statements

As part of its support for the Scottish Government Fair Work First agenda, Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is introducing new conditions attached to future funding awards. From 1 April 2022, all organisations across the region who are applying for HIE funding will be expected to comply with the Fair Work First criteria. See HIE steps up commitment to Fair Work Nation (16 March 2022).