SCVO has written to Neil Gray MSP on the recently released Fair Work First guidance.
Dear Mr Gray
I look forward to meeting with you on 10 May to discuss how we collectively ensure that the Scottish Government's approach to economic development recognises the value and potential of Scotland's voluntary sector.
I totally understand why you were unable to meet with us today specifically in relation to Fair Work, but feel it’s necessary to flag one issue in advance of our meeting in May as time is of the essence. That is the Scottish Government’s recently released Fair Work First Guidance, which includes new criteria requiring organisations in receipt of public sector grants to pay the Real Living Wage and provide appropriate channels for effective workers’ voice. At present I understand that grant recipients will be expected to adhere to these new criteria and the recently published guidance from 1 July 2023, which is just over two months away, yet we still need clarity on how the Scottish Government intends to fund these uplifts.
Please be assured that SCVO supports the Scottish Government’s aspirations for Scotland to become a Fair Work Nation by 2025. Years of underfunding, followed by Covid 19 and now the running costs crisis, however, mean those Fair Work ambitions cannot be achieved without additional resources.
As you know from my previous correspondence of 5 April, Scotland’s voluntary sector is a major employer, 46,500 voluntary organisations employ over 135,000 staff – 5% of the Scottish workforce. Fair Work for this vital workforce must be a priority.
After several delays over many months, the Fair Work First Guidance has only recently been published setting out which staff connected to an organisation will be covered by the new conditionality. Thorough engagement with the sector on these changes is needed as a matter of urgency to ensure the criteria are understood and to give voluntary organisations time to adapt to these changes. Proportionate systems also need to be in place to support organisations to evidence how they meet the conditionality and prevent this from becoming a significant barrier.
It is my view that it is now not possible to engage the sector and allow them to adapt to these changes in the short amount of time available.
To ensure the success of this policy for voluntary sector staff and the broader Fair Work First ambitions, I would urgently ask that the implementation date be delayed.
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter and to meeting with you in May.