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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Scotland's third sector falling behind others when it comes to fair work


Despite high standards, resources mean staff aren't given what they are due

Scotland’s third sector is struggling to compete with other sectors when it comes to fair work, new research reveals.

The Scottish Centre for Employment Research was commissioned by Glasgow Council for Voluntary Service (GCVS) to analyse fair work across Scotland’s charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups.

More than 650 participants took part with many saying they faced significant barriers in terms of pay and retention.

While two-thirds of respondents had degrees and higher qualifications, average pay in the third sector is around £2,000 less than averages for other sectors in Scotland and the UK.

Many – 26.5% - on short-term contracts were found to have been in that situation for five years or more.

The survey also found despite many staff being motivated by their organisation’s mission, 55% were doing unpaid overtime each month.

As such, the survey’s authors said staff feel devalued and felt a lack of respect for their contribution.

The survey also highlighted disparity when it came to women and men in the sector. Women, it found, were less likely than men to agree that they were paid fairly for the work they do, and also more likely than men to disagree that they were paid fairly for their work.

Women were also significantly more likely than men to disagree that they would be financially secure if they became ill.

And women were less likely to strongly agree that they were well supported by their managers.

Ethnicity was also a factor with regards to fair work. Mixed ethnic and other ethnic workers were more likely than other groups to report having their working hours fixed by their employer, and more likely to choose their working hours between fixed schedules.

Only white workers reported that their working hours were entirely determined by themselves.

On financial security, ethnic minority staff were overrepresented among those reporting the lowest level of financial insecurity.

Those staff from mixed, multiple and other ethnic groups were significantly more likely than white or Asian staff to be unable to pay an unexpected bill of £200, and much more likely to borrow to pay it, while white workers were more likely to pay with their own money or savings.

GCVS is now calling for action to ensure fair work in the sector. 

Ian Bruce, CEO at GCVS, said: “Achieving fair work in our sector is the moral duty we have to respect, reward and value people who dedicate their working lives to helping others and building a better society.

“They deserve the best, not compromise.”



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