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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-04188: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 31 October 2016

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason it did not agree to the Labour Party amendment to introduce the living wage for contracted workers involved in public escort contracts when drafting the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Answered by: Derek Mackay 9 November 2016

The amendment sought to impose a requirement on contractors to pay the Scottish Living Wage under public contracts. As we explained at the time, the amendment was not compatible with our obligations under EU law. The European Commission has confirmed in writing that any requirement on contractors, as part of a public procurement process or public contract, to pay their employees a living wage set at a higher rate than the UK’s National Minimum Wage is unlikely to be compatible with EU law.

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 took every opportunity to tackle Living Wage through procurement. Under powers provided for by the Act we published statutory guidance on “Addressing Fair Work Practices, including the Living Wage” in October 2015 and public bodies’ procurement strategies must include a statement of their general policy on the payment of the Living Wage to those involved in delivering public contracts.

So we are using the limited powers we currently have to full effect, and as a result, Scotland has the highest proportion of employees - around 80% - paid the Living Wage of all the four countries of the UK.