At the end of 2013 the Scottish Government confirmed what the employment law would look like if Scotland was to gain independence following the Scottish Referendum on 18th September 2014.

With Scottish independence, powers over legislation would transfer from Westminster to Scotland.

The government confirmed in a white paper that existing UK laws would remain in place after independence but they would be “tailored to Scotland’s needs”- this includes reversing “recent changes introduced at Westminster which reduce key aspects of workers’ rights”.

The White Paper covered:

  • The setting up of a Scottish Fair Work Commission to advise on the minimum wage and other factors relating to individual and collective rights.  A Scottish Government would encourage wider trade union recognition as it believes collective bargaining plays a positive role in improving labour market conditions.
  • A National Convention on Employment and Labour Relations would be set up to look at issues ranging from labour market reforms, skill-shortages and issues such as the Living Wage.
  • A restoration of the 90 days consultation period for redundancies affecting 100+ employees. The UK Government reduced this to 45 days in 2013; however Northern Ireland still has 90 days of consultation.  See our Guide to the current differences in Employment Law in the UK here.
  • A Living Wage Accreditation Scheme would promote the living wage and increase the amount of private companies paying it.
  • A commitment to increase the minimum wage which is at least in line with inflation.
  • A commitment to ensure that women have equal opportunities – including consultation on a target for female representation on company boards (with legislation if necessary).
  • Abolition of the UK’s Share for Rights scheme that was introduced in the UK in September 2013.

Because most of the UK’s employment laws stem from Europe, an  independent Scotland, who wants to be a “full and active participant in the EU”, would be obliged to continue with the many employment laws originating in Europe (they would have to negotiate to become a member of the EU).

The White Paper said that all rights and protections which individuals currently have under existing equality and human rights legislation would continue and be embedded in a written constitution.

The White Paper also listed zero-hours contracts and employment tribunals as key issues but did not provide any further detail.

The suggestions in the White Paper were all SNP proposals so whether they come into force or not depends on a “yes” vote and the strength of that “yes” vote.

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, or a Contractor/Freelancer/Employee with a complicated employment related problem, then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk  – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.

Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

Photo by Martin de Lusenet