Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Scottish Government public sector pay strategy published [March 2023]

The press release issued by the Scottish Government on 22 March 2023.

Proposals ‘balance fairness with affordability and fiscal sustainability’.

The framework for public sector pay increases in 2023-24 has been published, recognising the volatility of economic conditions while balancing the need for sustainable public services.

The new Public Sector Pay Strategy recommends public sector workers receive an increase of 3.5%, in line with the UK Government’s recommended pay rise for the public sector.

It sets a maximum pay uplift of 5% where there are justifying circumstances, suggests a £1,500 cash uplift for workers who earn £25,000 or less and commits to a review of Chief Executives’ pay.

Public bodies will be required to pay the real Living Wage at £10.90 per hour, including for internships and Modern Apprentices.

The strategy also maintains the Scottish Government’s commitment to no compulsory redundancies in the public sector as well as the delivery of a public sector pilot for a four-day working week.

It also strongly encourages employers to standardise to a 35-hour working week and puts in place provisions for the ‘right to disconnect’, which would support people to switch off from work and enjoy their free time without being disturbed by emails, messages or calls during non-work hours.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“This pay strategy focuses on making sure we balance fairness with affordability and sustainability of public finances while recognising the vital contribution of public sector workers in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government sees fair public sector pay deals and a policy of no compulsory redundancies as a response to the cost of living crisis and the strategy continues to promote our progressive approach to pay by including cash uplifts for those on low incomes.

“At the same time, it recognises that organisations across the public sector, including the Scottish Government, are subject to constrained funding and acknowledges the recurring impact of pay deals. This may mean public bodies need to take decisions on the size and shape of their workforce to ensure affordability in the medium-term. We expect this to be achieved through natural turnover and effective workforce planning.

“The Chancellor’s Spring Budget was silent on public sector pay, despite our calls for additional funding across the UK to support fair pay awards.

“The limited additional funding for the Scottish Government did not go far enough so to fund public sector pay increases, we will have to find money from within our budget to invest in public services and provide fair, affordable and sustainable pay rises.”


The 2023-24 Public Sector Pay Strategy

The pay strategy applies to around 52,000 staff in the Scottish Government and its associated agencies and non-departmental public bodies, such as Scottish Enterprise and NatureScot. It also covers NHS senior management posts and all public appointments, including the Chairs of public bodies.

A full list of public bodies the strategy covers is available on the Scottish Government’s website.

The strategy also acts as a reference point for other parts of the public sector workforce including NHS Scotland, fire-fighters and police officers, teachers and further education workers. For local government employees, pay and other employment matters are delegated to local authorities.