Publication date:September 2021
Following CAS’ initial 2021 submission to the Low Pay Commission, we had further engagement from advisers in the Citizens Advice Bureau Network’s Employment Specialist Forum. Advisers shared additional insight and evidence from their frontline experience on issues for low paid workers, including:
- Low pay and non-payment of statutory minimum wage rates
- Furlough and Covid-19 changes
- Social security
- Enforcement of employment rights
Publication date:June 2021
This consultation response surveys the employment issues CAB clients have faced during the pandemic.
- During COVID-19, employment rose to the third most common advice need across the Citizens Advice Scotland network, with spikes in advice on redundancy and dismissal.
- Many frontline low paid workers have seen their working conditions worsen as a result of insecure contracts and fire and hire tactics during the pandemic. Better pay and conditions for these essential roles must be a cornerstone of the recovery, valuing their contribution by allowing workers a decent standard of living, financial resilience, and job security. Moreover, higher wages offer more disposable income to be spent in local communities, supporting demand.
- The pandemic has raised the cost of living for those on low-pay, with the extra time spent at home leading to increased food and utilities bills. Workers receiving the National Living Wage (NLW) still face budgeting struggles, through a combination of high costs, low wages, and limited and unpredictable social security support.
- CAB cases show evidence of employers in low-paid sectors being non-compliant in other areas, even if they are paid NLW or higher, including unpaid holiday and sick pay. Much of this non-compliance has taken place within the furlough scheme, making it harder for workers to determine how their employment rights are being breached.
- The pandemic and Brexit have hit tourism and hospitality particularly hard, where many roles will be low-paid. Brexit is also having an additional impact on EU nationals who advisers tell us may now face difficulties accessing social security they are entitled to.
- We warmly welcome the decision to lower the age threshold of the NLW and would recommend that in future different rates for different ages are abolished altogether.
- We also welcome the increase to NLW and other minimum rates but hope they can be raised further to at least meet the level of the independently-calculated voluntary Living Wage.
- The Government’s recommitment to a single enforcement body is to be welcomed, but this work must be prioritised and well-funded in order to achieve its aims.
Treasury Select Committee inquiryPublication date:June 2020
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomed the creation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS): timely responses which protected incomes and prevented many jobs being lost. There are some gaps in the schemes, together with some misuse or non-use of the CJRS by employers, which have caused detriment to workers.
Publication date:June 2020
This submission addresses issues of low pay and employment practices.
CAS supports principles of single enforcement body but warns it must be adequately resourced and resist centralisationPublication date:January 2020
Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland dealt with over 40,000 employment issues in 2018-19 alone, and recorded more than 300 detailed case studies related to employment. Employment advice is consistently one of our top five advice areas, and the advice categories “terms and conditions” and “pay and entitlements” are the most commonly recorded client inquiries. Between, 2016-17 and 2017-18, employment issues related to terms and conditions, and pay and entitlements grew slightly as a proportion of all employment issues we dealt with. This Citizens Advice Scotland response is based on our previous research in this area and analysis of detailed case studies submitted by frontline advisers between April 2018 and September 2019[i].
CAS calls for better notice of shifts and shift cancellationPublication date:January 2020
Citizens Advice Scotland is publishing its response to a UK Government "Good Work Plan" consultation. This consultation looked at unfair one-sided flexible working practices, where the employer expects the worker to be flexible and respond to shift changes with no or little notice, while not reciprocating. In this response, CAS provides examples of workers suffering detriment as a result of one-sided flexibility and makes recommendations to address this.
Low Pay Commission consultationPublication date:June 2019
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the consultation. In 2017-18, Scotland’s CAB network advised clients on a total of 47,254 issues related to employment. Of those, the largest proportion related to Pay and Entitlements (13,697), with Scottish CAB advising clients on 454 issues specifically related to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.
Scottish Government consultationPublication date:April 2019
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the introduction of the Job Grant, which will provide much-needed support to young people who have been unemployed for six months or more as they start in a job.
Scottish Parliament Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee InquiryPublication date:September 2018
CAS supported the devolution of employment programmes, as it represents the opportunity to provide schemes that more effectively support long-term unemployed people into work, based on the positive employability programmes already existing in Scotland.
Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee inquiryPublication date:August 2018
In 2017/18, Scotland’s CAB network provided advice on 19,047 issues related to Universal Credit (UC), which by the end of the period had only been rolled out to around half of Scotland’s local authority areas. Additionally, CAB advised clients on 10,562 Working Tax Credit and 11,499 Child Tax Credit issues, which are the main in-work benefits that will be replaced by UC.
Scottish Affairs CommitteePublication date:February 2017
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.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy CommitteePublication date:December 2016
The emergence of so-called new forms of employment relationships between
workers and employers has put a strain on existing employment protections. In
particular, the misuse of zero hours contracts has been a major concern for CAS over the past three years.
UK Parliament Work and Pensions CommitteePublication date:May 2016
Citizens Advice Scotland is extremely concerned about the potential negative impact of the abolition of the ESA Work Related Activity component. The removal of support for the additional costs faced by disabled people through this component could have the effect of creating additional barriers to them gaining employment. The majority of people affected by the move are far from the labour market, with 73% of Scottish claimants in the ESA Work Related Activity Group having been in receipt of the benefit for more than two years, and in some cases will never be fit for work again.
An analysis of employment advice provided by Scotland’s CAB networkPublication date:April 2016
The Citizens Advice Service is the most common external source of advice for employees who experience problems at work. In Scotland last year, clients brought over 50,625 new employment issues to their local CAB.
Report Stage and Third ReadingPublication date:November 2015
This briefing focusses on amendments tabled to the Scotland Bill addressing areas where the
Bill does not appear to meet the intent of the Smith Agreement. Citizens Advice
Scotland is concerned that, as currently drafted, there are risks of detriment
to CAB clients, who sought advice on 220,000 new
benefits issues in 2014/15 and who have been subject to recent changes to reserved tribunals which have
had a marked and detrimental effect on consumers in Scotland.
CAS submission to the Scottish Parliament Economy, Energy and Tourism CommitteePublication date:August 2015
Scotland’s Citizens Advice Service is the most common external source of advice for employees who experience problems at work. In 2014/15 clients sought advice on 50,625 new employment issues, a number that has been increasing in recent years. Additionally, citizens advice bureaux see first-hand the effects of in-work poverty, with a growing number of working clients seeking advice because they are struggling to pay for essentials. These twin problems – unfair employment practices and low paid jobs – represent a worrying trend in recent years and ones which CAS believes need to be addressed.
CAS written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Devolution (Further Powers) CommitteePublication date:August 2015
Whilst there are a number of areas of the Scotland Bill that fully meet the word and spirit of the Smith Agreement, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) believes that, as currently drafted, there are a number of sections of the Bill relating to social security and tribunals that do not appear to meet its intent. CAS is concerned that without changes being made there are clear risks of detriment to CAB clients, who sought advice on 207,875 new benefits issues in 2013/14 and who have been subject to recent changes to reserved tribunals which have had a marked and detrimental effect on consumers in Scotland.
Publication date:June 2015
Employment problems are one of the most common types of issues that people seek advice on at a citizens advice bureau. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has published reports showing the impact of poor employment practices, Employment Tribunal fees, non-payment of Employment Tribunal awards, and the misuse of zero hours contracts, which are causes for concern based on the negative experience of CAB clients in Scotland. This briefing was sent to all MSPs ahead of the debate on Employee Rights and Access to Justice tabled by The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham.
Publication date:April 2015
The Scottish Government’s consultation focuses on changes to the public procurement rules in Scotland. These changes are as a result of new EU legislation, and are designed to further simplify the public procurement rules, and to support wider public policy aims including delivering sustainable economic growth. CAS’ response highlights the need to make sure that the changes deliver positive outcomes for the paying public, and deliver value for the service end users. Our response also emphasises that the changes to the procurement rules need to ensure that public bodies promote fair employment practice through public procurement.
Publication date:April 2015
A study of employment issues amongst BME workers within Perth and Kinross