Job quality is at the heart of the CIPD’s purpose to champion better work and working lives. We believe that good work is fundamental to individual wellbeing, supports a fair society and creates motivated workers, productive organisations and a strong economy.  

Working Lives Scotland is the CIPD’s dedicated report on job quality in Scotland. Adapting CIPD Good Work Index to the Scottish Fair Work Framework, the report provides analysis and insight on a range of issues from workforce health and wellbeing to skills and career development through the pandemic, with a view to informing public policy interventions and improved people practice.  

Policy-makers, employers and people professionals across Scotland need to act if they are to improve job quality for the whole of the workforce – not only aiming for more jobs, but better jobs. Working Lives Scotland is a tool to support them in this work. 

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Key findings

COVID-19 and fair work 

  • Employees' experience of work has stayed broadly consistent over the past year despite the pandemic, suggesting that many job quality barriers (and good practice) are resilient to change. 
  • Employee preferences point to a hybrid future for those who can work from home, with homeworking some of the time the most popular option. But, almost half (43%) of all employees work in jobs that can’t be done from home. 
  • Key workers report worse job quality across most indicators. Furloughed workers also generally report worse job quality, especially if furloughed full-time. 


  • 26% of employees feel their work impacts negatively on their mental health, with 25% reporting negative impacts on their physical health. 
  • Carers and key workers are more likely to report going to work despite not being well enough to do so. 
  • Homeworkers report better relationships at work, in particular with line managers. Those working fully from home, however, report poorer work–life balance. 


  • Workers who have been put on furlough report lower levels of job security. 
  • Those on higher salaries report higher levels of job security. 
  • The median pay of key workers is significantly lower than for non-key workers. 


  • Less than a third (31%) of employees believe their job offers good prospects for career advancement. 
  • Only 8% of furloughed employees undertook training during their time on furlough. 
  • Despite a rise in homeworking, significant gaps remain in the availability of flexible working arrangements. 


  • 34% of all employees report their workload as too high in a normal week. Key workers and those working from home all the time are more likely to report workloads that are too high. 
  • 13% of those working fully from home say they don’t have a suitable space and 12% say they don’t have suitable broadband to do their job effectively. 
  • Key workers are significantly more likely to feel their jobs are meaningful. 

Effective voice 

  • Availability of voice channels differs significantly by organisation size and between the public and private sectors. 
  • One-to-one meetings with managers and team meetings are the most commonly reported forms of voice, available to 59% and 49% of employees respectively. 
  • 19% of employees say they have no voice channel at work at all. 

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