Scotland politics

Living wage for public contract bidders

Scottish money Image copyright Getty Images

Firms bidding for public sector contracts will be expected to pay employees the living wage under new rules which have come into force.

They will also ban the exploitative use of zero hours contracts.

The new statutory guidance for the public sector is part of the Scottish government's commitment to fair work procurement practices.

Companies will also be required to commit to giving workers an "active voice" in the workplace.

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said the guidance sees the government "nail its colours to the mast".

He said: "Our model of procurement, putting the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability at the heart of all we do, remains the foundation of our approach.

"Employers must now recognise - as many already do - that if you want to do business with the public sector in Scotland, you have to be a responsible employer and value your workers. You have to do your bit to make Scotland a fairer and more equal society."

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually by the Living Wage Foundation.

The government pays its own workers the living wage of at least £7.85 an hour and has a voluntary accreditation scheme for other employers.

The living wage is more than a pound an hour higher than the current national minimum wage, which is currently set at £6.70 for over-21s.

While the minimum wage is a legal requirement, the living wage is designed to reflect the actual cost of living and is paid voluntarily by some employers.

In July, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to replace the minimum wage for over-25s with a National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour from next April.

The chancellor said he wanted the National Living Wage to rise to £9 by 2020.

The introduction of the new guidance on public sector procurement was welcomed by trade unions.

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