The Scottish Government has been urged to work with the third sector following an announcement on funding conditionality.
A leading third sector group has called for the Scottish Government to work with charities and voluntary organisations to ensure that voluntary sector organisations have the support they need to pay the Real Living Wage.
This week Employment and Fair Work Minister Richard Lochhead and Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater, announced that all organisations that receive grant funding from Scottish Government, enterprise agencies, and public bodies must pay the real Living Wage to all staff engaged in grant-funded activity by July 2023.
The announcement is part of the Scottish Government’s plans to become a Fair Work Nation by 2025.
Ms Slater said: “An effective voice for workers is vital to ensure better terms and conditions, worker wellbeing and developing progressive and fairer work places.
“The ability to speak, individually or collectively, and to be listened to, is essential to improving workers experience as well as improving organisational performance.
“We will work with employers, workers and trade unions, to continue improving the terms and conditions for employees of organisations applying for a public sector grant.”
But the national membership organisation for the voluntary sector, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), has raised concerns about those workers who could be left behind.
In a statement, SCVO said: “SCVO agree that Fair Work for Scotland’s voluntary sector workforce should be a priority. However, it is unclear how the sector will be supported to fund this change.
“Years of underfunding, followed by Covid-19, and the running costs crisis, mean that for many voluntary sector employers paying the Living Wage cannot be achieved without additional resources.
“A significant number of people employed in the sector are funded by public sector grants and contracts. SCVO have made clear that to support organisations to pay the Living Wage, public grant funding and procured contracts should build in a Living Wage uplift to ensure organisations delivering public services and other vital support are able to pay the Living Wage.
“We look forward to more details about how these plans will be funded in the upcoming Scottish Budget.
Concerns were also raised that plans to ensure Scotland’s voluntary sector workforce are paid at least the Real Living Wage apply only to staff engaged in grant funded activities creating the potential for pay inequality within and between voluntary organisations.
SCVO encouraged the Scottish Government to engage with voluntary sector funders and employers to ensure that all of the sector's 135,000 employees can be paid at least the real Living Wage.
The organisation added: “The voluntary sector workforce makes a huge contribution across Scotland, offering a lifeline to people, families, and communities as the cost-of-living crisis bites. This lifeline shouldn’t need to be extended to voluntary sector staff.
“Scottish Government need to work with local government, funders, and crucially, the sector, to ensure that voluntary sector organisations have the support they need to pay the Real Living Wage.”