New Scottish Procurement Policy Note: Implementation of Fair Work First in Scottish Public Procurement (3/2021)

Scottish Procurement has issued a new Scottish Procurement Policy Note 3/2021 detailing the actions of how public bodies can implement the new Fair Work First criteria into regulated procurement processes that commence from 1 April 2021.

The key points are:

  • Fair Work is central to achieving the Scottish Government’s priority for sustainable and inclusive growth and as we transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic and into a period of economic recovery and renewal, Fair Work is more important than ever and must be at the heart of employment practices, funding and procurements.
  • In December 2020, Ministers wrote to public bodies setting out the clear expectation that public sector partners must lead the way by embedding Fair Work in our organisations and through supply chains, including through procurement, by applying the five Fair Work First criteria in public procurement processes from April 2021.
  • Fair Work First asks businesses bidding for a public contract to commit to progressing towards adopting the five criteria.

The Fair Work First criteria are:


  1. appropriate channels for effective voice, such as trade union recognition;
  2. investment in workforce development;
  3. no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts;
  4. action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace; and
  5. providing fair pay for workers (for example, payment of the real Living Wage).

The Fair Work First criteria should be applied to public bodies regulated procurement processes, where relevant and appropriate to do so. For example, in service, goods and works contracts, where the way the workforce are engaged will impact on the way the contract is performed and where the workforce makes a significant contribution to the way the contract is delivered.

The existing Fair Work in Procurement guidance, the Statutory Guidance, Best Practice Guidance and the Toolkit, is still relevant and is being updated to reflect the focus on the five Fair Work First criteria.

SPPN 3/2021 can be read in full on the Scottish Government website.

SDP Scotland

The Supplier Development Programme has issued previous communication regarding SPPNs which can be viewed on the SDP Scotland website. Though Fair Work is embedded within SDP's training materials, course materials are being updated to ensure suppliers are prepared for how Fair Work First will affect public sector procurement after 1 April 2021.

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