UK TORIES BLOCK BILL TO END EXPLOITATIVE UNPAID TRIAL SHIFTS

On the day that Holyrood debated the ‘Building Fairer Workplaces’, the Scottish Government announced a range of new measures to support fair work – backed by an extra £350,000 funding.

The measures include:

  • A further £250,000 for the Trade Union Fair Work and Modernisation Fund, to promote better working practices
  • £100,000 towards the STUC’s Fair Work: Leadership and Equality Programme
  • A review of the Business Pledge, focused on attracting greater business buy-in and impact

450 businesses have already committed to the Business Pledge, which celebrates companies that boost productivity and competitiveness through fair work values – and in October 2017, the target of 1,000 Accredited Living Wage employers was met.

The Scottish Government continues to fund Family Friendly Working Scotland, an organisation which works with employers, government, families and others to promote a flexible and family friendly working culture.

It has also launched The Carer Positive Employer initiative, which is proving hugely successful in raising awareness of what being carer positive means as well as the benefits of doing so for business – such as avoiding recruitment costs, retaining experienced staff and reducing staff absences.  This month saw the recognition of the 100th Carer Positive Employer, with the scheme now covering organisations with 300,000 employees across the public, private and third sectors.

The bulk of powers over employment and social security remain reserved to Westminster, however. During the debate, the UK Tory Government was condemned across the Chamber – with the exception of the Scottish Tories – for its recent blocking of a bill by SNP MP, Stewart McDonald, which would have banned the exploitative practice of unpaid trial shifts.

Speaking in the debate on Thursday 22nd March, Ruth said:

“Building greater fairness in the workplace is good for society and it is good for the economy.

“Ensuring that everyone is treated with fairness, respect and support in the workplace is the right thing to do and allows individuals to fulfil their potential.

“Staff feeling valued, respected and fulfilled also means lower staff turnover, fewer absences from work and higher overall productivity.

“Building fairer workplaces also ties in with our efforts to tackle wider systematic inequalities – from gender inequality to supporting carers and young people.

“I share colleagues’ contempt at the disgraceful behaviour of the UK Tory Government in blocking the efforts of my SNP colleague Stewart McDonald to ban the exploitative practice of unpaid trial shifts.

“I am sure that all of us in the chamber—well, most of us, anyway—will continue to make the case for the ban, as well as arguing for young people’s right to be paid the real living wage and to have a range of opportunities available to them, whether that is wider access to higher education or expanded provision of high-quality apprenticeship pathways.”