Pauline McNeil: The time has come for the devolution of employment law

Writing for The Red Robin, Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McNeil argues that powers over workers' rights should be brought closer to the Scottish economy and be controlled at Holyrood. 

Richard Leonard is right, the devolution of employment law is needed in these austere times.

I am delighted that Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has announced that Scottish Labour will support the devolution of employment law. This annoument is an important one and should be welcomed with open arms.

I have been of this view for a few years, but since the 2016 Brexit result I have renewed my vigour on this policy. It's time for powers to better protect workers’ rights closer to the Scottish economy with the Scottish Parliament - especially if we face a form of Brexit which has an effect on the jobs market.

There is little realisation of those who are in secure employment with long term careers of the stress caused to workers who are in insecure employment.

There is little discussion of the millions of workers who don’t have adequate sick pay schemes, and who come to work ill as they cannot afford to be off.  Although there are still many pay issues for public sector workers, and I  have been active in support of claims for fair pay and a cost of living increase, we must remember the many who are not  protected by trade unions. For these workers the law is not on their side either.

I had a recent experience of someone I know being treated badly by an employer who was not in the private sector, and I would have expected better from them.

My friend was given two days notice of termination of contract despite expecting a full time contract after working long hours on poor pay. Thanks to a key intervention, this was averted. However there are many others who don’t have either unions or friends to intervene on their behalf.

Labour must reach out beyond the public sector and beyond trade union organised workers and give the best employment rights to the most vulnerable at work. In doing so, obviously rights should never fall below what is enjoyed across the UK but they can be greatly improved.

More importantly an agenda of dignity and respect for all workers and those seeking work could make a huge difference to the society we live in.

It is time for Scottish Labour to make the case for this and find common cause with other parties who are of the same mind.

Well done Richard Leonard, I am right behind you on this.

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