Unfair employment putting Scottish workers in a “miserable situation”, says new report


Employees sacked for becoming pregnant, denied sick pay when ill and can’t afford employment tribunals

CITIZEN’S Advice Scotland (CAS) dealt with over 46,000 employment issues last year, and many of them placed employees “in a difficult, complex and miserable situation”.

The figures are part of a new report from CAS, ‘Fair Enough?’, which looks at cases of unfair treatment of employees and offers solutions to address the problem.

“Some of the unfair employment practices we see put workers in difficult, complex and miserable situations,” CAS spokesperson, Rob Gowans, said. “In exposing these today we want to raise awareness of these problems, but also to argue the case for change. All of the problems we identify in this report can be fixed, and we suggest ways of doing that.”

CAS cites numerous examples of unfair employment that have been brought to their attention by employees, including:

– Employees denied sick pay when seriously ill

– Employees paid considerably below the minimum wage

– Employees sacked for being off sick or wishing to take a holiday

– Women sacked after becoming pregnant

– Migrant workers forced to work excessive hours

– Employees who can’t afford employment tribunal fees or who won employment tribunal cases and were not paid the money by employers

– Poorest practise often involves workers with zero hour contracts

The reports main proposals to address unfair employment include:

– Removing employment tribunal fees

– The creation of a new statutory Employment Commission to oversee the enforcement of employment law and promote fair employment

– Action to make it easier for workers to receive money awarded to them by an Employment Tribunal

– Additional resources to enforce payment of the National Minimum Wage, and to target employers who do not pay their employees’ income tax

– Extending protection from unfair dismissal, as well as rights to full parental leave and pay to those classed as ‘workers’ (such as many on zero hours contracts)

A Scottish Government spokesperson responded to the report by stating: “Employment law is reserved to the UK Government. While the vast majority of employers in Scotland are lawful and exercise a duty of care to their employees, there are unfortunately people who flout the law.

“The Scottish Government fully recognises the importance of making workplaces fairer. We have announced our intention to set up a Fair Work Convention to encourage government, employers, trade unions and employees to work together to establish progressive workplace practices, boost innovation and productivity.

“We are also considering the implications of the new powers around tribunals that are being transferred as part of the Smith process.”

The ‘Fair Enough?’ report is part of a Citizens Advice Scotland campaign to “help employees assert their rights”.