20 January 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Minimising job losses and ensuring that large groups of workers do not get stuck earning only the legal minimum when the National Living Wage (NLW) is introduced should be a top priority for the Scottish government, the Fair Work Convention, local leaders, and businesses across the country.
According to analysis published this month by the Resolution Foundation think tank, a focus on boosting productivity and progression in low-pay sectors such as retail, hospitality, cleaning, and care will be needed to make sure that the NLW is affordable for employers.
The foundation is currently carrying out an employer-focused investigation with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on how firms adapt to the NLW.
Its research states that nearly a third of all employees working in Clackmannanshire and Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit from the NLW by 2020. The analysis shows that the impact of the NLW - the new wage floor of £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and over, which comes into effect in April - will vary considerably across Scotland.
By 2020, about 500,000 employees across Scotland - 22 per cent of the total - are set to be affected by the NLW.
But a far higher share of staff will see their pay increase in some parts of the country than others.
A third (33 per cent) of employees working in Clackmannanshire are likely to be affected by the NLW. A similarly high proportion of employees working in Dumfries and Galloway (32 per cent) are also set to benefit.
In contrast, just 16 per cent of employees working in Aberdeen are set to benefit from the NLW, with Edinburgh (17 per cent), Dundee (18 per cent) and Glasgow (19 per cent) also less affected by the new higher wage floor.
While it strongly welcomes the new wage floor, the foundation notes that implementing it will prove a greater challenge in lower-paying areas.
The foundation adds that, despite the name, the UK government's new legal wage floor is not a 'living wage', and there remains plenty of scope to expand the reach of the voluntary living wage - currently set at £8.25 across the UK.