Fair Work First is the Scottish Government’s policy for driving high quality and fair work across the labour market in Scotland by applying fair work criteria to grants, other funding and contracts.

From 1 July 2023, the Scottish Government’s Fair Work First guidance requires all organisations that receive public sector grants to pay at least the real Living Wage and provide appropriate channels for effective voice, while committing to the remaining Fair Work First criteria.

All applicants that receive funding through the Scottish Government’s CARES must, therefore, meet the criteria that includes paying at least the real living wage and providing appropriate channels for effective workers’ voice. The core requirements of the guidance are as follows.

Evidencing compliance with Fair Work  

The Scottish Government guidance on evidencing compliance is summarised below and available on the Scottish Government website.  

1. The Scottish Government promotes payment of the real Living Wage as the minimum rate for everyone in paid work. All UK-based staff aged 16 and over, including apprentices, who are directly employed by the grant recipient must be paid at least the real Living Wage.  

  • Where cumulative public sector funding is below £100,000 for the current and previous financial years, a self-declaration confirming that the real living wage will be paid to all staff from the start of the funded period is required. Local Energy Scotland will be required to carry out spot checks to ensure declarations are accurate.
  • Where public sector funding received is over £100,000 for the current or previous financial year, additional evidence is required. Please contact Local Energy Scotland who will be able to provide you with additional guidance on this.

2. Employers who are accessing grant funding are also asked to include a short joint statement on their website highlighting their commitment to advancing the Fair Work First criteria. This should include the real Living Wage and effective workers’ voice conditions. 

3. CARES applicants must provide a joint statement from a trade union or worker representative during the application stage and prior to final claim (if funding is awarded). This statement must confirm that the applicant organisation will pay the real living wage to its staff and that it adheres to the requirements of providing effective workers’ voice. 

Effective workers’ voice

The Scottish Government requires applicant organisations to demonstrate how their staff are given an effective voice within their organisation. Applicant organisations are required to provide evidence of collective and individual voice channels.

The respective Scottish Government guidance recognises that collective voice can sometimes be difficult to evidence in smaller organisations, therefore while organisations should be providing both collective and individual channels to provide a genuine effective worker voice, the collective aspect does not have to be evidenced by those organisations with fewer than 21 workers. In evidencing effective voice, written confirmation from a workers’ or trade union representative will have to be supplied confirming the voice channels available. Individual voice can be evidenced through opportunities for regular 1:1 open and two-way dialogue between line managers and their direct reports, provided this is a dialogue that exists separately to standard performance review processes. Such a process could be further evidenced by regular engagement surveys that support this or in related organisational KPIs. Good practice examples are also available in the Fair Work First guidance on pages 10 to 12.

Where a CARES applicant has at least 21 paid workers, effective workers’ voice must be evidenced both individually and collectively. Local Energy Scotland will provide further guidance to assist applicant organisations in considering how they evidence collective voice channels in their organisations, and can also discuss individual channels as there may be alternative ways of evidencing this to that described above.