SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has pledged a raft of measures to make work fairer in light of the pandemic.

In a speech to the STUC broadcast today (Tuesday), Ms Sturgeon said that the pandemic ‘had shone a light on the fragilities in our society’ – and pledged to use the devolved powers to improve working practices in Scotland where possible.

Key pledges outlined by the First Minister included:

  • Reviewing and expanding the Scottish Government’s Fair Work First programme to include – for instance – more flexible and family-friendly working practices and also to clamp down on fire and rehire tactics.
  • Support a specific accreditation programme for Living Hours similar to the accreditation currently given to Living Wage employers.
  • Establish a £10m fund to supporting companies in piloting and exploring the benefits of a four day working week – with a view to a more general shift once the Scottish Parliament has the powers to do so.
  • Supporting working families – particularly those on low incomes – by building a system of wraparound childcare, doubling the Scottish child payment and beginning work on a minimum income guarantee.
  • Creating a National Care Service, a key election ask of the STUC, which – as well as many benefits to those receiving care, will allow the Scottish Government to introduce a National Wage for care staff and enter into national pay bargaining for the first time.

The Scottish Government shares the ambition of the Fair Work Convention for Scotland to be a Fair Work Nation by 2025.

In her address to the STUC, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“COVID-19 has shone a light on the fragilities in our society – whether that’s health inequalities, insecure employment, low pay or access to public services. In learning the lessons of how we handled the pandemic, our recovery can’t simply involve turning the clock back to 2019.

“Although many of the key powers remain in the hands of the Tories at Westminster, where we can act to improve employment security and enhance the quality of work – we will.

“Our Fair Work First programme makes adoption of fair work practices part of the criteria for winning public contracts and receiving grants. It uses the financial power of government to make fair work the norm.

“Learning lessons from working practices during the pandemic, we’ll now build flexible and family-friendly working into that programme and expand on our commitment to Living Hours, as well as a Living Wage, with support for a specific accreditation programme for businesses delivering Living Hours.

“During the pandemic, some companies have used disgraceful fire and rehire tactics to undermine wages and conditions. The SNP will continue to push the UK government to act but it has so far refused to take the necessary steps to ban these exploitative practices, so we will review our Fair Work First criteria to include specific reference to fire and rehire tactics.

“And we’ll look at ways to support people achieve a healthy work-life balance. As part of this, we’ll establish a £10 million fund to allow companies to pilot and explore the benefits of a four day working week.

“We will use the learning from this to consider a more general shift to a four day working week as and when Scotland gains full control of employment rights.

“More widely, we will support a review – in partnership with trade unions and businesses – of how working practices could and should be adapted to meet the needs of the future economy.”

“By backing the SNP in this election, people can elect a government with the experienced leadership and the policy vision to take Scotland into a brighter, more sustainable future.”

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