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Spotlight on: Employment
Citizens advice bureaux help thousands of clients each year with employment problems. These clients are often low paid, relatively low skilled, are often unaware of their employment rights, and are vulnerable to poor and illegal employment practices.
The recession has created a situation in which these poor practices are more common: employees will put up with poor employers for fear of losing their job; workers will accept radical changes to their pay and hours rather than face a tough labour market; and employers will try to cut corners and slash costs in order to stay afloat.
22 Nov 2023
23 May 2022
by David Scott, CAS policy officer (Social Justice)
This article was first published in the Herald on 23 May 2022.
Publication date: May 2022
Employment advice accounted for 4% of all advice given by the Citizens Advice network in Scotland in 2021-22. Yet while our advisers are able to offer people information about their rights at work, many struggle to enforce these rights in practice.
CAS is calling for:
- A three-pronged approach to ensuring fair work in low-paid sectors, covering:
- A preventative strand focused on awareness-raising for individuals and employers, working with schools and job centres to ensure those entering the workforce are fully informed of their rights and entitlements, and with enterprise bodies to ensure new employers understand their responsibilities.
- An easy process, anonymised if necessary, where employees, employers, and witnesses can report concerns that result in swift investigative action.
- A strong approach to enforcement when non-compliance is found, with responses guided by the severity and impact of the non-compliance.
- Adequate funding for employment support and wider advice services. › A holistic view towards supporting fair work, in particular by providing a strong social security system and other policies to tackle the rising cost of living, in order to give people the security to challenge poor working practices without facing poverty.
- A prioritisation of the Employment Bill and the introduction of a single enforcement body, adequately funded in order to effectively protect worker’s rights.
Publication date: December 2021
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the Scottish Government’s support for improving working practices across Scotland. Progress on equal employment access and pay for women, minority ethnic, and disabled workers is welcome, as is the commitment to introduce a requirement on public sector grants recipients to pay at least the real Living Wage to all employees by summer 2022. These actions will improve working conditions for many.
However, the majority of people CAB see every day do not work in the sectors supported by the most ambitious Fair Work plans. They will instead be in low-paid and insecure work, often facing violations of very basic employment rights. For these people, the first step to a Fair Work Nation must be better enforcement of their already-existing rights.
Advice services like CAB play an important role in informing people about their employment rights, giving them a more effective voice in challenging unfair work practices. This is particularly necessary for low-paid jobs where union membership is likely to be less concentrated.
In 2020-21, Scotland’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) network gave 74,994 pieces of employment advice to clients – 8% of all advice provided across the network last year – making employment the third most popular advice area, behind social security and debt advice.
Publication date: November 2021
Citizens Advice Scotland response to the Scottish Government consultation on COVID recovery
Publication date: November 2021
Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to the Scottish Civil Justice Council consultation on Rules Covering the Mode of Attendance at Court Hearings