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Fair work through social partnership

April 29th 2020

The Welsh Government intends to introduce a Social Partnership Bill to increase fair work. This report outlines what difference it can make for thousands of workers and what further considerations are needed to embed and extend fair work through the proposed legislation

The outbreak of coronavirus has highlighted that many essential workers, from carers to delivery drivers to retail staff, experience low pay and poor conditions. While they are valued for providing vital services, they often receive inadequate reward. At this time of crisis, taking action to enhance fair work is more important, not less. This report  contributes to dialogue about how to improve employer-employee relationships, and to making work fair both now and in the future.

The Welsh Government’s white paper on social partnership proposes the establishment of a Social Partnership Council and the introduction of a duty on public bodies to work in social partnership and promote fair work. This approach would bring Welsh Government, trades unions and employers together to address issues affecting the workforce. Public bodies would also be required to produce a procurement strategy outlining how the benefits to local economies and working conditions will be maximised.

These proposals represent an important step forward in putting fair work on the Welsh policy agenda and taking active steps to achieve it. However, we outline several considerations that should be taken into account to ensure fair work becomes a reality for far more people than it currently is:

  • The fair work duty on public bodies must be part of a wider shift in improving terms and conditions for workers.
  • The Social Partnership Council’s work should comprehensively cover all aspects of fair work.
  • There are limits to the role of public procurement in increasing fair work – Where public procurement is significant, businesses may not be responsive to demands for fair work practices and change will take time. Public bodies may not have the capacity to increase the social impact of procurement and additional support may be needed.
  • New approaches to collective bargaining and negotiation training for both trades unions and employers will be key to ensuring the social partnership approach is successful, as will enhancing the availability of advice on workers’ rights.
  • Increased monitoring and enforcement will be needed to ensure compliance with all legislation relating to fair work.
  • Recognition of good employers, through  encouraging take-up of various ‘quality marks’ for example could be used as incentives to embed fair work.

Report format:PDF

Language: English

Page: 17

Cost: Free

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