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Protecting the rights of low paid workers

Published: 22 Dec 2015 10:12

Scottish Agricultural Wages Board to be retained.

The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board will continue to protect the rights of low paid farm workers in Scotland, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced.

The decision follows a review and public consultation on the future of the body, which has the power to set minimum pay rates, holiday entitlement and certain other conditions of service for agricultural workers in Scotland. Orders made by the Board have the force of law.

New Scottish Government analysis published today found evidence that scrapping the Board would drive down wages, particularly for young apprentices and migrant workers.

It also found no evidence that abolishing the board would help create more jobs in farming. On the contrary, agricultural job growth in Scotland has outpaced that of England, where the wages board there was abolished in 2013 leading to a fall in wages for the lowest-paid agricultural workers.

The Rural Affairs Secretary said:

"Workers must be paid a fair wage for the job that they do. As well as being the right thing to do it is important in attracting people into the industry – which is vital for the future of Scottish agriculture.

"I have considered carefully the results of this review and responses to our consultation, in which a variety of views were expressed.

"The evidence in favour of retaining the Scottish Agriculture Wages Board is compelling. It continues to perform an important role in protecting the rights of farm workers - many of whom are paid low wages – which in turn underpins the rural economy.

"That is why I have decided to retain the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board."

Notes to editors

The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) established under the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949. Similar arrangements for determining minimum rates of pay and other conditions for agricultural workers exist in Northern Ireland and in Wales under different legislation.

As with other Non-Departmental Public Bodies, the legislation governing the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board specifies that its function must be reviewed periodically in order to ensure that it is delivering appropriate minimum rates of pay and other conditions of service for agricultural workers in Scotland. The next review is due to take place in five years' time.

The Scottish Government consulted on the future of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board earlier this year. The analysis of consultation responses can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/11/3974

The Scottish Government has also carried out a Poverty Impact Assessment, which has been published http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Research/by-topic/environment/social-research/publications/Povert-Impact-Assessment