A Charter of Workers' Rights for Scotland

Jane Carolan, Ruth Dukes, Keith Ewing, Eleanor Kirk, Chris McCorkindale

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1 Labour law as broadly defined is a reserved matter, though there has been a vigorous debate about its devolution by enhancing the powers of the Scottish Parliament. This is a debate that could continue for some time. In the meantime, Scottish workers’ rights cannot stand still: there is a need for both a framework of workers’ rights and consideration of to how best it can be implemented within the current constitutional arrangements.
2 Although labour law generally may be a reserved matter, this does not mean that there is no opportunity for the Scottish government to advance a programme for workers’ rights. It is true that the nature of the devolution settlement is such that it would be difficult for the Scottish Parliament to legislate as the National Assembly for Wales has done recently in respect of agricultural workers and the Trade Union Act 2016 respectively.
3 While recognising that for the time being legislative authority continues to be based at Westminster, there is nonetheless more that can be done to advance workers’ rights, in terms of bringing trade unions into the process of government, identifying a framework of workers’ rights, and developing strategies for their effective implementation. In this document we set out the questions of institutional responsibility and opportunity.
4 In a devolved context, government has both a responsibility and an opportunity to take the initiative where there is need to be met. After almost 40 years of liberal economics, followed by austerity, there is clearly a need to be met. There is also an urgent need to deal with workers’ rights in the imminent consequences of Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLiverpool
Commissioning bodyThe Institute of Employment Rights
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • workers rights
  • labour law
  • Scottish Parliament
  • trade unions


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