Living Wage – Bill set to strengthen pay commitment

Posted in: General News

Scottish Government secures EU discussions to address minimum wage restrictions.

Amendments to the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill that will further strengthen its commitment to the Living Wage are set to be discussed today (Tue) during the Bill’s final Parliamentary debate.

The Government amendments will mean that companies bidding for relevant public contracts will have their willingness and ability to pay the Living Wage – currently £7.65 per hour – assessed as part of their bid, while public bodies will be required to explain what their living wage policy is in the procurement strategies that the Bill obliges them to prepare.

The STUC and the Poverty Alliance have been invited to contribute to the drafting of the statutory guidance that will give effect to these amendments to ensure that it is both robust and properly implemented.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also confirmed that Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, has written to the First Minister to reaffirm the Commission’s view that “a contractual condition to pay a living wage set at a higher level than the general minimum wage is unlikely to meet the requirement not to go beyond the mandatory protection provided for in the [Posting of Workers] Directive”.

This means that the Scottish Government cannot make the Living Wage a mandatory condition in public sector contracts. Scottish Government officials are now set to engage further in an on-going dialogue with the Commission in a bid to address these restrictions.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Tackling low pay is a key priority of the Scottish Government, and that is underlined by the provisions for the Living Wage that we are supporting as part of this Bill.

“Our amendments will strengthen the Bill and help to ensure that payment of the Living Wage gets the priority it deserves.

“It is disappointing that the European Commission have said they do not believe it is possible to make the Living Wage a mandatory condition in public sector contracts. This is a situation that we want to see changed and that is why we welcome the Commission’s offer, in a letter to the First Minister, of ongoing discussion on the issue.

“We are doing all we can with the powers we currently have to address the issue of low pay, and the amendments that I am proposing will mean that businesses wanting to work on relevent public sector contracts will have to clearly demonstrate how they plan to remunerate their staff.

“However, we will continue to press the EU for the ability to do even more and if we achieve that I can confirm that we will implement those changes to ensure that all those working on relevant public sector contracts benefit from the Living Wage.

“With independence, we will be able to ensure that the National Minimum Wage rises every year, at least in line with inflation and never again falls behind the cost of living, as it has done every year since 2008.”

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