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Fair work practices ‘more important than ever’, Scottish Government and STUC say in joint statement

Grahame Smith - Image credit: STUC

Fair work practices ‘more important than ever’, Scottish Government and STUC say in joint statement

Fair work practices are “more important than ever” during the coronavirus outbreak, the Scottish Government and STUC have said in a joint statement.

The statement by economy secretary Fiona Hyslop and STUC general secretary Grahame Smith

calls on employers, trade unions and employees to work together on workplace issues during the coronavirus outbreak.

It also encourages businesses to take up the “unprecedented” package of support and says employers must ensure workers are treated fairly and their health and safety protected.

In the statement, Hyslop and Smith say: “We have high expectations of how fair work principles should be applied during the current crisis.

“This means an approach where workers, trade unions and employers work together constructively to reach the right decisions on all workplace issues that arise throughout this crisis.

“The dimensions of fair work as defined by the Fair Work Convention – effective voice, security, respect, opportunity and fulfilment – applied to the current context, offer a framework for taking these decisions.

“These are exceptional times and for this reason we are asking employers, unions and workers to agree appropriate arrangements that ensure that workers are treated fairly.”

The statement sets out seven specific fair work principles for employers to follow during the coronavirus outbreak.

These include ensuring that workers are not put under pressure to breach advice on isolation, paying workers who are sick or self-isolating, supporting those with caring responsibilities, facilitating home working, and treating self-employed staff and agency workers as if they were employees during the crisis.

The principles also say that all workers should be given “clear and comprehensive information” on work-related coronavirus risks, including procedures to be followed for sickness absence and self-isolation, and that the health and safety of all staff must be protected, with ongoing risk assessments of workplace practices and personal protective equipment provided where appropriate.

Commenting on the statement, Hyslop said: “Partnership with workers and trades unions is crucial to making the right decisions to protect workers and ensure public safety while also helping businesses to stay open and keep people in employment.  

“Employers must allow their staff to follow medical advice to self-isolate or isolate with their households.

“Workers should never feel pressured to breach that advice.

“Fundamentally, employers should look to maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout this crisis, and to make use of government support to achieve this.

“Scotland’s success as an economy is built on a shared endeavour between workers, unions and employers and this approach will help us get through this outbreak.

“It is now more important than ever that Scotland adopts fair work principles and practice to get through the COVID-19 health and economic crises and support businesses and their staff to get through this together with co-operation.

“Many companies are doing this and I thank them for it.”

Smith added: “This statement rightly sets out the high expectations that the Scottish Government and the STUC has that fair work principles will be fully applied by employers during the crisis to address the many concerns that workers are experiencing on the ground.

“Fundamental in all of this, is the need for unions and workers to be fully involved in making the key decisions.

“What constitutes fair work is not in the gift of employers.

“We’ve seen already that some employers can’t be trusted to take decisions that respect the health and safety, the welfare and the incomes of workers.

“Unions can be trusted and have been demonstrating this throughout the crisis, working day and night to support workers, defending incomes and job security and ensuring that everyone can work safely when necessary or is empowered to stay at home. 

“We welcome the commitment from the Scottish Government that it will use all of its influence to ensure that employers act in line with the principles set out in the statement.”

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - New ‘more accurate’ figures give higher total for COVID-19 deaths

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