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What is Fair Work?

Fair Work aims to balance the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers and generates mutual benefits for individuals, organisations and society, such as increased participation in work; improved productivity in the workplace, and wider distribution of wealth within local communities.

Fair Work can be defined as work that offers effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect. Fair work can be a significant driver of productivity for Scotland, and contributing to growth that is inclusive.

Set up in 2016, the Fair Work Convention in Scotland set out a helpful Framework explaining the dimensions of fair work and how they can be achieved. 

  • Effective voice: effective channels of communication in workplaces along with a safe environment
    that enable workers to contribute to discussions, be listened to and make a difference, promoting
    an environment of employee engagement.
  • Opportunity: ensuring that everyone who wants to can access work and, in work, can develop
    and progress.
  • Security: including stability and predictability of employment, working time and
  • Fulfilment: developing and utilising skills, career advancement and employee engagement.
  • Respect: ensuring workers are respected in terms of, for example, health, wellbeing and safety
    regardless of their role or status. 

What are the business benefits of Fair Work?

  • Employee engagement
  • Opportunity – development, progression, diversity
  • Security – pay and contracts
  • Fulfilment – job satisfaction
  • Respect – personal worth

The adoption of Fair Work practices doesn't have to be costly to employers - in fact, there may be financial benefits to them.

Fair employment and treatment can boost your brand image

Customers, clients, investors, workers and potential business partners usually want to make socially-conscious decisions about the businesses they work with and support. If your business has a reputation for failing to pay staff a real living wage, to implement fair employment practices or treat workers equally, your brand image will take a hit. As a result, you may not be able to make the sales or land the contracts you need, you may struggle to find willing investors and business partners and recruitment can become more difficult and costly. However, when you ensure the fair employment and treatment of workers, you can boost your brand image and position your business as one that people want to support.

Find out more here

Improve employee satisfaction and retention

If employees feel your recruitment processes are unfair or the way your business treats workers is unequal, you could have a problem with employee satisfaction and morale. This can hinder productivity, leading to reduced profitability, and employee-retention rates are likely to drop too. 

By investing in staff training and development, making sure you treat workers equally and consider job candidates based solely on their personal skills, qualifications and abilities, you can improve employee satisfaction and retention. You’ll benefit from a happy, productive workforce that wants to stick around long-term, reducing your recruitment and training costs. 

Demonstrate zero tolerance for corruption and bribery

When you act with integrity and ensure fair employment and treatment in your workplace, you demonstrate zero tolerance for corruption and bribery. People should be hired and given opportunities because they’re right for the job, not because of bribes or personal relationships. They certainly shouldn’t be hired for immoral reasons such as the opportunity to exploit someone with low wages or unfavourable working conditions. Having fair and consistent recruitment policies and procedures and making sure workers are treated equally can deter people from entering into corrupt practices or bribery. 

Find out more here

Comply with important legislation on the fair employment and treatment of employees

The fair employment and treatment of employees is required by certain laws and regulations. As well as benefiting your business, fair practices are also a case of compliance. For example, there are employment and labour laws that detail employees’ rights to fair treatment and equal opportunities.

Find out more here

The vision of the Fair Work Convention

By 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and for society.

Employer support tool

The enterprise and skills agencies, in conjunction with the Scottish Government and the Fair Work Convention, have developed a tool to help employers understand and fully embed the dimensions of Fair Work. It will support you to take the next step on your Fair Work journey.

Access the Fair Work tool



Fair Work employer support tool

This tool will help you to progress fair work within your organisation.

Access the Fair Work tool


Fair Work in Tourism

Fair work is an investment in everyone in your business. It's about making sure you recruit, nurture and retain the right people to help your business thrive. For tourism businesses in the Highlands and Islands, implementing fair work practices may seem like a big ask right now but can you afford not to? 

Find out more about Fair Work in Tourism by registering for a copy of our guide. It'll help you identify the areas of fair work practices you're already doing, and what more you could do.

Fair Work in Tourism

Webinar: A Fair Flexible Work Programme for Scotland

Webinar: A Fair Flexible Work Programme for Scotland

HIE, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise and Timewise, a leading organisation of fair work practices across the UK, held a webinar in December 2021 discussing a Fair Flexible Work Programme for Scotland.

The agenda included:

  • Flexible work and lessons from the pandemic
  • Shaping up for hybrid working and making it fair for all
  • Attracting flexible talent
  • Q&A session.

The webinar was recorded and available here for those who couldn’t attend the live event, or for those who’d like to watch it back and consider how the points discussed can help you to develop a fair work programme within your own organisation.

About Timewise

Timewise are leading experts in flexible working helping businesses across the UK. They provide insights to policy makers to stimulate action to grow a quality flexible jobs market, and they provide support to employers and policy makers to drive cultural and operational change on flexible job design and hiring. Their aim is to grow the quality flexible jobs market for job seekers.


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