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26 April 2014 | Gurjit Degun
The Scottish Government has proposed including a provision on the living wage - giving it the "priority it deserves" in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The government said the first amendment “will put an explicit reference” to the living wage in the bill, giving it more prominence. It calls for authorities to evaluate a contractor’s approach to pay and the living wage.
“This means that for contracts where low pay is traditionally an issue, bidding companies will have their approach to managing, rewarding and engaging with their workforce, including payment of the living wage, evaluated as part of the procurement process,” the government said.
A second amendment will require public authorities to set out what their policy on the living wage is in their procurement strategies in relation to contractors.
“These amendments will strengthen the bill and help to ensure that payment of the living wage gets the priority it deserves – but without breaching EU law,” the government said.
Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon added the proposals highlight the government’s commitment to tackling pay inequality.
“Our proposed changes will send a very powerful message to businesses wanting to work on public sector contracts that they will have to demonstrate how they reward and motivate staff,” she said.
"Our hands are tied by EU legislation in relation to making the living wage a mandatory condition of contract. However, we can ensure the procurement processes encourage and support payment of the living wage and that is exactly what the bill will do.”
The living wage is currently £7.65 per hour, compared with the current national minimum wage of £6.31 per hour. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.
The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill passed stage two last month. Stage three is the final consideration of the bill by parliament when a decision will be made on whether it should be passed.