Enabling fair work, productivity and inclusive growth : lessons from Scotland

Findlay, Patricia; Irvine, Gail, ed. (2020) Enabling fair work, productivity and inclusive growth : lessons from Scotland. In: Can Good Work Solve the Productivity Puzzle? Collected Essays. Carnegie UK Trust, Dunfermline, pp. 45-50. ISBN 9781912908271

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Fair work – that offers opportunity, security, fulfilment, respect and effective voice, and that centres on reciprocity and mutual benefit – lies at the heart of policy priorities in Scotland aimed at driving productivity, growth and inclusion. Fair work is explicitly embedded in the activities, strategies, policies, practices and performance indicators of the Scottish Government and its public agencies. Crucially, fair work is increasingly recognised as important by employers, employers’ organisations, trade unions, campaigning and civil society organisations, fuelling a constructive and challenging debate across civic Scotland. This hasn’t happened overnight. The fair work agenda in Scotland builds upon multiple stakeholder networks (researchers, unions, employers, policymakers and campaigning organisations) that acknowledge the centrality of work and workplaces to economic, social and civic life, and the need to engage holistically with distinct stakeholder interests and objectives in addressing complex problems that require innovative solutions. These ‘wicked’ problems span low relative productivity and innovation; low pay, unequal pay and in-work poverty; underemployment and skills under-utilisation; work intensification; income inequality and limited social mobility. Addressing the potential benefits of fair work for productivity involves focusing on the need for supportive management practices that harness the productive potential of labour. This essay makes four key arguments about the crucial need for, and role of, fair work. The first is that fair work is necessary to deliver inclusive growth. The second is that a commitment to fair work drives a better approach to value creation and capture and is a choice (within constraints) that employers can make. The third is that employers are the primary actors in delivering fair work: as key decision makers, their choices of business models, technology adoption, and management and HR practices really matter. The fourth is that constructive engagement between key workplace stakeholders supports employers in delivering fair work.