3 November 2015

Scottish Government encourages procurers to ask about treatment of workers

The Scottish government has released new procurement guidance that encourages public procurers to question the fairness of working practices within companies invited to bid for contracts. While the guidance is not mandatory, the government says that it should only be ignored if the procurers have “a very good reason” to do so. The guidance will apply to procurement processes launched on or after 1 November 2015.

In deciding what constitutes fair working practices, the Scottish Government points to the payment of a “living wage”, which in Scotland is calculated at £7.85 per hour. Under EU law, procurers may not demand that workers be paid beyond minimum wage, but can use other means to encourage suppliers to do so. Zero-hour contracts, in which staff can be hired without a guaranteed amount of work, should also be viewed unfavourably according to the government.

"The Scottish Government believes that employers whose staff are treated fairly, who are well-rewarded, well-motivated, well-led, have access to appropriate opportunities for training and skills development, and who are a diverse workforce are likely to deliver a higher quality of service," states the guidance document. Other factors for selecting contractors, including cost, will remain relevant.

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