Scotland’s CAB network provides a substantial amount of advice relating to problems at work. In 2015/16, citizens advice bureaux in Scotland advised clients on 48,530 new employment issues.
Examples of unfair employment practices that have affected CAB clients include unfair dismissal; not being paid for work carried out; being paid considerably below the National Minimum Wage; being denied sick pay or paid holiday; and instances of bullying and discrimination including racism, and women who were dismissed when they became pregnant.
The emergence of so-called new forms of employment relationships between workers and employers, such as misuse of zero hours contracts, bogus or unwanted self-employment, as well as reliance on agency or temporary contracts instead of permanent contracts, have put a strain on existing employment protections.
CAS believes that it is in the interests of employees, employers and government that fair employment is promoted in Scotland. CAS believes that action should be taken by both the UK and Scottish Governments to prevent unfair employment practices from occurring and strengthen access to justice for workers who have been subject to them.
Unfair employment practices can be combated by making improvements to the Employment Tribunal system, by enforcing existing employment law and by promoting fair employment practices. Additionally, CAS believes changes should be made to strengthen the rights of people employed on zero hours contracts, and other similar forms of insecure work.
CAS believes that the devolution of employment programmes represents an opportunity to replace the existing Work Programme and Work Choice with schemes that more effectively support long-term unemployed people to get into work, based on the positive employability programmes already existing in Scotland. However, this requires that the Scottish approach to employability introduced by the Scottish Government aligns effectively with DWP approaches to employability and avoids any use of sanctions and conditionality.