FSB Wales has today welcomed the publication of ‘Fair Work Wales’ – the report of the Fair Work Commission.
The Commission, instituted by former First Minister Carwyn Jones, gathered evidence from a range of stakeholders in recent months on working practices, reward and representation to form a picture of the landscape of fair work in Wales. It has also considered measures to promote the fair work agenda through the public sector and business.
Among the recommendations within the report is the proposal that Welsh Government should create an adequately staffed and resourced Office of Fair Work, which it describes as a ‘necessary linchpin’ to drive forward fair work in Wales and provide a contact point for organisations.
Speaking on the publication of the report, John Hurst, Member of the FSB Wales Policy Unit stated:
“We support the aspiration of Welsh Government to promote and reinforce fair work across the public and private sectors and were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Commission to discuss the smaller business perspective on fair work. Smaller businesses are in no doubt of the value of their employees and we know that already, many of our members go above and beyond expectation in supporting employees, ensuring fair reward and providing progression routes and see this as crucial to maintaining their competitiveness.
There are examples of poor and indeed illegal practice in some instances and these should be tackled to maintain the competitiveness of good employers and to ensure the protection of employees in Wales.
“This report is wide-ranging but we very much welcome the approach that the Commission has taken in engaging FSB and its members and are pleased to see that overall, the approach is evolutionary and proportionate and recognises some of the pressures and distinct challenges faced by smaller businesses and particular sectors.
“We are committed to taking forward the fair work agenda in Wales. However, while protecting employees is crucially important, we need to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that fair work is also an issue for businesses owners themselves, many of whom have personal assets leveraged against the business and in some instances are unable to pay themselves the national living wage. We are pleased the Commission recognises that further work is needed around self-employment in particular”.
The Commission’s report also recommends extending the Welsh Government’s Economic Contract to support offered by the Development Bank of Wales and Business Wales but also recognises that employers need an appropriate level of support to help them meet the conditions of fair work.
In its evidence to the Commission, FSB outlined the need to encourage best practice in line with enough support through organisations such as Business Wales, to help businesses develop and implement that work.
Ben Francis, Chair of FSB’s Wales Policy Unit added: “We have been supportive of Welsh Government’s ‘something for something’ approach as outlined in the Economic Action Plan and we note the Commission’s suggestion that organisations in receipt of public money should be required to meet the proposed Fair Work Standard. However, it is important that Welsh Government now clarify what constitutes public money for the purposes of fair work and accepting the importance of promoting fair work, it’s important too that we don’t inadvertently discourage businesses seeking support to grow and develop their businesses or make that process onerous. Making it simple for businesses to evidence fair work is crucial.
“I am very pleased to see that the Commission has emphasised the need to identify what is appropriate and achievable within the current legislative competence of Welsh Government with regard to fair work across the sectors. We feel very strongly that this is the start of a journey which is as much about engendering a positive culture of fair work within the public, private and third sectors in Wales as it is about rooting out poor practice.
“However, the challenge here is substantial and should the Welsh Government adopt these recommendations, we will expect that the recommendations and the support required to properly implement them are adequately resourced.
“Furthermore, much will now need to be done to engage businesses across Wales on this important agenda. This will give us the opportunity not only to promote the cause of fair work but also identify the excellent practice which we know is already being adopted by many of Wales’ smaller businesses”.
As experts in business, FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in Government. Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.