98,000 Scots retail staff ‘not paid real living wage’

Think tank IPPR Scotland has called on the Scottish government to “set a clear expectation” that all workers be paid at least the “real living wage.”

IPPR Scotland said 98,000 retail workers in Scotland are paid “below the real living wage.”

In a new research paper “State of the fair work nation” IPPR Scotland called on the Scottish government to “shine a clear spotlight” on large retail companies that refuse to pay their staff at least the real living wage.

Although employment law is reserved to the UK government, researchers at the think-tank said the Scottish government can nonetheless “work creatively to stand up for decent living standards in Scotland.”

IPPR Scotland said the Scottish government’s forthcoming retail “fair work agreement” should set clear expectations that all retail workers be paid at least the real living wage with large retailers who refuse to do so needing to account for their choice to their employees and customers.

Dave Hawkey, senior research fellow at IPPR Scotland and co-author of the report, said: “The real living wage isn’t a luxury – it’s essential for families to meet the basic, decent standard of living.

“Yet Scotland’s lowest paid retail workers are being hung out to dry by large companies who must now take responsibility for their role in in-work poverty in Scotland.

“Scotland can become a fair work nation in the next few years, but everyone must play their part, including the Scottish government, by stepping up the pressure on exploitative employers in sectors like retail, to ensure that everyone in Scotland is paid a fair, liveable wage for the work that they do”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government urges all employers to sign up to the fair work agenda, including paying the real living wage.

“Employment law is reserved to the UK Government. However, Scotland is leading the way, as 91% of employees aged over 18 earned the real living wage or more in 2022 – higher than any other UK country.

“That has come about through hard work and consistent advocacy from Scottish ministers and our partners like Living Wage Scotland.

“Today the Fair Work Oversight Group – made up of leading figures from business, trade unions, equality groups and academia – will meet for the first time to advise the Scottish Government on its fair work policies.”