What is decent work?

Oxfam and the University of the West of Scotland published research earlier this year which looks into what employees see as being most important to them.

We all aspire to a higher wage society, for more flexible working and better job security. These are issues that the Scottish Government is actively promoting through the Business Pledge and Living Wage accreditation for employers. And their efforts are  backed by SNP MPs in Westminster advocating for fairer work practices.

But there is an aspiration for work on top of these fundamentals which struck me from the UWS/Oxfam research. The 1500 respondents to the survey, street stalls and focus groups ranked having a job with "purpose and meaning" consistently amongst the top asks.

It seems obvious of course, but as the UK Government chases jobseekers to find *a job, any job*, people rightly aspire for more than that. They aspire for dignity in their work, for their work to be fulfilling and rewarding and to match their skills and experience.

That's why the Scottish Government's desire to have their soon to be devolved employment programmes based on a voluntary basis is so important. People shouldn't be sanctioned, hectored and bullied into applying for jobs that they know they won’t get because they lack the right experience, or because of other barriers in their search for employment. People seeking work - whether they have a mental health condition, a disability or have been out of work for some time - should be given the support and encouragement to find the right job for them.

Another key area requiring work and identified by the research is for “fair pay for similar jobs”. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute has estimated if the gender pay and employment gap is closed £600bn would be added to UK GDP.

The gender pay, job progression and participation gaps are outrageous in terms of economic and equalities policy.

I probed the question of decent work with the UWS/Oxfam researchers and party colleagues at the SNP conference in the SECC's Carron room.

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