Employers ‘should face tax penalties if they don’t offer fair pay’

A new report from IPPR Scotland calls for tax penalties for employers who don’t meet fair work criteria, including a living income, and tax rebates for those who do.

Folder with label saying 'salaries'


Employers should have to pay additional taxes if they fail to deliver on fair work criteria, according to a new report which aims to drive up pay and conditions in the wake of the pandemic.

The report, Delivering a fair work recovery in Scotland’,  from the think tank IPPR Scotland also calls for tax rebates for employers who do deliver on fair work criteria.  It says Fair Work Agreements – similar to New Zealand’s fair pay agreements – would set minimum standards for quality jobs across a range of sectors.

Research for the report shows women, disabled people and young people are especially at risk of financial insecurity due to low pay and precarious work. It found that one in five workers surveyed in Scotland typically receive two weeks’ notice or less of their working rota. Working women in Scotland are 44 per cent more likely to experience low pay than men, with Black and ethnic minority workers 38 per cent more likely than white workers to experience low pay. It also found that seven in 10 workers in ‘routine’ work are still in routine jobs a decade later.

The report calls for the Scottish Government to focus on the delivery of fair work during the Covid recovery, including a ‘living income’, defined as  people having enough income to lead a good life.  It says a focus on job creation must centre on not just any jobs – but good quality jobs that offer decent pay, sufficient and reliable hours, good conditions and opportunities to progress. The authors argue that investing in such jobs is good for people, businesses and the economy at large.

In addition it calls for the abolition of upfront childcare costs for those in receipt of universal credit; a new lifelong learning offer that promotes in-work learning through an enhanced individual training account, worth at least £1,000 a year; and the extension of education maintenance allowance (EMA) to young people in modern apprenticeships to minimise their financial insecurity.

Rachel Statham, IPPR Scotland senior research fellow, said:  “Fair work should provide a living income – but too many people in Scotland don’t have the pay, hours or working conditions they need to build a decent life for themselves and their families. Women, black and ethnic minority workers and young people are at greatest risk of being locked out of fair work.

“That’s why, as we look towards recovery from the Covid crisis, we must now step up efforts to make Scotland a fair-work nation. As a first step, Scottish government should come together with employers and unions to drive up pay, hours and conditions in those sectors hardest hit through the crisis, like hospitality, retail and social care.”

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