Proposals for a radical new law to ensure workers in all sectors of the Welsh economy benefit from economic growth and that no one is left behind, have been unveiled by the Welsh Government.

First published:
7 November 2019
Last updated:

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Ministers are today publishing a white paper about its proposed Social Partnership Bill.

Despite record levels of people in work, the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, in-work poverty is deepening, the gender pay gap persists and modern precarious employment practices, such as compulsory zero hour contracts, have become a feature in some parts of the labour market, leaving people without certainty in their day-to-day income.

Work is the best route out of poverty and the Welsh Government has a long track record of delivering programmes to support an educated, healthier population, better placed to take advantage of job opportunities.

The Welsh Government has also taken action to help people’s income go further.

The proposals for a Social Partnership Bill, which are announced today and will be consulted on, will ensure all people affected by decisions are involved in making them. 

The proposals for a Social Partnership Bill aim to support ambitions for a more equal Wales and build on a commitment that businesses and organisations benefitting from public funds should aspire to the best employment practices.

The white paper includes measures to strengthen the ability of the public sector to leverage socioeconomic benefits from public spending more consistently and to create a legislative platform for social partnership arrangements between government, public and private sector employers and trade unions in Wales.

It will do this by:

  • Placing a duty on public bodies to promote fair work – including fair reward for a fair day’s work and including workers in in decision-making
  • Using public procurement and grants as mechanisms to incentivise fair work practices
  • Involving trade unions and employers in the delivery of policies which will help promote the best employment practices.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“Our workforce is our greatest economic asset in Wales, essential to driving our economy forward in a competitive, global market-place on the one hand and delivering essential public and voluntary services on the other. 

“We have a strong record of working in social partnership across legislation, policy and investment. From restoring sectoral bargaining via the agricultural advisory panel, to introducing the Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in the Supply Chain, we have worked creatively to deliver more protection and a greater voice for working people in Wales.

“These proposals are the next step. They recognise there are many employers in Wales who fairly reward their workers, value their staff, properly engage the workforce in decision-making and invest in their development.  We want to make sure these responsible employers are not disadvantaged when it comes to accessing public funds and that these practices are actively encouraged.

“We want this to be the experience of work for every worker in Wales. As First Minister, I am determined to use the levers we have to make this a reality and the proposals we have set out today make it easier for us to work effectively in partnership towards these shared goals.”

Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James added:

“While work remains the best route out of poverty, more and more people in work are struggling to make ends meet. We cannot accept that rising inequality is inevitable as our national economy grows.

“An inclusive Welsh economy in which everyone can thrive and no one is left behind is fundamental to our vision for Wales as a modern, compassionate, more equal nation.

“This White Paper outlines proposals to strengthen our social partnership arrangements and deliver a renewed, more ambitious agenda for greater social equality that would be informed by the findings of the Fair Work Commission, which reported earlier this year.”

The Welsh Government has made a commitment to bring forward a Social Partnership Bill by the end of the current Assembly term.

A more equal Wales: strengthening social partnership white paper