4. Fairer Working Lives
Action 42 – Do more to promote the living wage. The Scottish Business Pledge is a values-led partnership between Government and business, with a shared ambition of boosting productivity, competitiveness, sustainable employment, and workforce engagement and development. Paying the Living Wage is the core requirement for any company making a Pledge. Decent wages for all are vital if we are to tackle in-work poverty, which is why we are committed to promoting the Living Wage. In October 2017 we reached the target of 1,000 Accredited Living Wage employers set by the First Minister. We have increased funding for the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative to £336,000 to recruit an additional Accreditation Officer in the Dundee/Aberdeen area to help achieve this challenging target.
Action 43 – Help people in Scotland to work flexibly. We continue to fund Family Friendly Working Scotland ( FFWS), working in partnership with them and with Working Families, Parenting Across Scotland and Fathers Network Scotland. In conjunction with FFWS, a workshop with businesses was delivered at the National Economic Forum on 12 May 2017 to explore the benefits for business and another is planned for November 2017.
On 7 September we delivered a key commitment of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, when we launched the Flexible Jobs Index Scotland. We commissioned Timewise to produce the Index, which analysed the flexible jobs market in Scotland for the first time. The Index showed that demand for flexible working outstrips supply, meaning that there is a significant opportunity to grow the flexible jobs market - with benefits for employers, workers and families. The Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities and the Minister for Childcare and Early Years launched the Index with a visit to Lloyds Banking Group.
We are committed to piloting mentoring for small and medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs) to help them recruit on a flexible-working basis, building on existing services. We continue to explore ways to fund and deliver a model for the pilot with potential for replication.
The Scottish Government is keen to make sure its own flexible working practices are a model for the public sector too. So two Scottish Government directorates are now being mentored by Timewise to be leaders in this area.
Employability and Discrimination
Action 44 – Improve employment services for disabled people. The Scottish Government is committed to introducing an employment service for disabled people that meets their needs and helps them gain sustained employment. In developing our new employment programme - Fair Start Scotland - we have recognised the very different support needs of disabled people seeking work. Not all disabled people will need intensive support but those who do can expect to receive the specialist support they require. This may include supported employment or Individual Placement and Support for some people with severe and enduring mental health conditions. Contracts for each of the 9 contract areas have now been announced and the service will commence in April 2018. The contracts aim to support a minimum of 38,000 people towards or into sustained work over three years of referrals. Disabled people are a priority group for the service. To mitigate the drastic reduction in funding for employment programmes, Scottish Ministers have committed to invest an additional £20 million over and above the UK Government settlement in each year of Parliament.
A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People was published in December last year and is our response and commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Key among our commitments on employment is the ambition to halve the disability employment gap, and our intention to consult across the public sector on the setting of public sector disability employment targets. Implementation of the plan is now under way across Government and our partnership with the sector will continue as we drive forward those specific actions. An international congress will be held early in 2018 on disability, employment and the workplace where we will set out our future plans and actions for an all Scotland approach to helping many more disabled people into sustained employment.
The Scottish Government ran a marketing campaign over the summer to encourage SMEs to employ disabled people with the strapline "Get Past The Awkward" which achieved a reach of 646,339 adults in Scotland and the videos were viewed 285,814 times. The media release was picked up in 40 publications.
New: We will hold a major congress in 2018 on disability, employment and the workplace and engage with partners, employers, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and disabled people's organisations during 2017 in shaping its focus.
Action 45 – Launch a pilot 'Returners' project by the end of 2016. We have delivered on our commitment for a Returner's Programme to assist women to re-enter the workforce following a career break. In the first stage of this work, in October 2016, Scottish Government awarded nearly £50,000 to Equate Scotland to provide 40 women with support to re-enter the STEM labour market by offering one to one guidance, career clinics and access to webinars and three month placements. In August 2017, the Minister for Employability and Training approved a further six projects with a total value above £185,000. These projects will address the under-representation of women in the, finance, security and manufacturing sectors; increase business start-up rates for women and the number of women in senior positions and also encourage men into childcare which will help to change the perception of caring as a 'women's role'. One project specifically supports black and minority ethnic women back into the workplace.
Action 46 – Tackle discrimination on pregnancy and maternity leave in the workplace. The Scottish Government is continuing to work with partners, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to address these issues. Although many of the powers governing employment law, parental leave and flexible working are currently reserved to Westminster we are committed to tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination and to working with employers directly and through their representative bodies to explore how we can improve equality in the workplace for women.
The Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Working Group, which is chaired by the Minister for Employability and Training, has a remit to produce best practice guidance for employers and improve access to guidance for pregnant women and new mothers. Guidance and best practice has now been published on the Scottish Business Pledge website. The Scottish Government, its agencies and partners will continue to signpost and promote this guidance to businesses.
The Scottish Government strongly opposed the UK Government's introduction of employment tribunal fees in 2013, not least because of its likely impacts on women because of pregnancy and maternity issues. We committed to abolishing the fees in Scotland once the management and operation of employment tribunals had been devolved. The Scottish Government was therefore delighted with the Supreme Court judgement that UK Government policy on employment tribunal fees was unlawful and discriminatory against women. The UK Government now needs to repay around £32 million to claimants. The Scottish Government will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that the new employment tribunal system in Scotland provides access to justice and contributes to our vision for fair work to be embedded in all workplaces in Scotland.