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Decent work means more than sufficient pay, finds Oxfam

Decent work means more than sufficient pay, finds Oxfam

Decent work means more than receiving sufficient hourly pay, according to new research by Oxfam.

The University of the West of Scotland-Oxfam Partnership carried out a Scotland-wide consultation of more than 1500 people to gather views on the factors that made for a decent job.

The top five priorities for workers in Scotland were decent hourly rate, job security, paid holidays and paid sick leave, a safe working environment, and a supportive line manager.


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Oxfam warned that policymakers are still too focused on increasing employment rates, “without paying enough attention to the quality of work created”.

Researchers found that women value a supportive line manager more than men, though overall there was “remarkable consistency” in people’s top priorities for decent work.

Francis Stuart, Oxfam Scotland’s research and policy adviser, said: “Too often paid work fails to serve as a reliable route out of poverty – that should concern us all.

He added: “This research shows the quality of employment is also critically important to people’s lives.

“Ahead of May’s Scottish Parliament elections, we hope all political parties consider the priorities identified by low paid workers, and outline what they will do using devolved powers to help make work better in Scotland.”

Researchers said the project had a particular focus on the views of women and men with experience of low-paid work.

With the Scottish Government due to release its report on fair work in April, Dr Hartwig Pautz, lecturer in social sciences at the University of the West of Scotland, said that a public debate is needed on job quality in Scotland.

Dr Sally Wright, senior research fellow at Warwick University, said: “This report is the first of its type in Scotland. It not only provides a voice for workers who want decent work, it shows what needs to change for decent work to be created in Scotland.

“Low paid workers want a decent income, but they also want basic protections in their work, including job security, paid leave, a safe working environment and a supportive line manager. Too many low-paid workers are lacking even these basic features from their work.”

The research was conducted by the University of the West of Scotland-Oxfam Partnership with the support of Warwick University. The full report, including an assessment of how Scotland’s labour market is performing against the priorities identified, will be released later this year.

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