New “Fair Work First” approach to business grants and support

Written by Michelle Rodger

Businesses will have to satisfy a new list of employment conditions in order to achieve government support.

Plans have been announced to make business support grants and contracts funded by the Scottish Government fairer to workers, by obliging firms to meet specific criteria.

Fair Work First will require companies to comply with key criteria on the living wage, gender pay and zero hours in order to secure grants and public sector contracts.

Companies and trade unions have worked with ministers on the fair work programme, which has been designed to stimulate investment in skills and training.

FM Nicola Sturgeon said it is part of the government’s commitment to “working, day in, day out, step by step, to change lives for the better.”

Speaking at today’s (Tuesday) SNP Conference in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said the government has made payment of the real living wage part of the procurement process, and extended it to adult social care workers . In addition, it will soon be the same for early years workers.

As a result of all of that, she said, Scotland now has the highest proportion of employees paid the living wage of any UK nation but more must be done.

“Last month, we said business support grants from Scottish Enterprise would have living wage, zero hours contracts and gender pay criteria attached.

“I can announce today that, working with unions, business and the public sector, we will extend that approach.

“We will adopt a new default position. Fair Work First.

“By the end of this parliament, we will extend fair work criteria to as many funding streams and business support grants as we can. And, we will extend the range of Scottish Government and public sector contracts that fair work criteria apply to.

“Fair Work First means investment in skills and training, no exploitative zero hours contracts, action on gender pay, and genuine workforce engagement, including with trade unions. And, of course, payment of the Living Wage.

“We may not yet have the constitutional power to make fair work a legal requirement – but we do have the financial power of government to make it a practical reality.

“And we will make that count.”

About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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