Skip to content

Devolving Employment Legislation

Embargo – 01:00 Tuesday 6 February

The outline case for devolving employment law has been made by a wide range of organisations in Scotland, from political parties to trade unions and anti-poverty organisations. In a new paper, the Jimmy Reid Foundation moves beyond aspiration to set out a detailed policy for devolving employment-related law to Scotland.

After setting out the context, the paper outlines the case for and against the devolution of employment law. While we understand the preference of many UK organisations for the consistency of a single UK system of employment law, we conclude that this argument has limited credibility 25 years on from devolution.

The main chapter covers all the areas of law that might have employment law implications and explains how these could be devolved. We recommend that employment and trade union rights, wages, equal opportunities, health and safety and immigration (partially) should be devolved. While there is a case for devolving related areas such as pensions, company law and social security, we argue those areas need to be considered in the broader devolution debate and are not essential to gaining the immediate benefits of devolving employment law.

This paper does not focus on setting out another wishlist of how employment rights could be improved after devolution. However, there is no point in devolving any powers if they are not used for progressive purposes, so we outline how they could be deployed.

The paper’s author and the Director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, Dave Watson, said,

“The strength of devolution is that a smaller administration can try different approaches that would be complex and slow to deliver across the UK. A new constructive model of industrial relations and modern employment rights to replace the failed model facilitated by poor legislation from Westminster. In particular, we point to the Scandinavian model that fits a country like Scotland in scale and culture. These economies have managed to be socially inclusive and egalitarian, flexible, innovative and internationally competitive. We offer this paper as a practical guide to delivering a new model through devolution.”

There is a short explanation of the paper on our YouTube site here
We will also be discussing the issues raised in the paper on Tuesday, 16 April 2024, at our lunchtime fringe meeting at the STUC in Dundee.