Paid leave, better job security and a safe working environment are among the prerequisites for a decent job, according to a survey carried out by Oxfam.

A report produced by the charity in collaboration with the University of the West of Scotland showed a big gap between what workers think is acceptable and the reality in many workplaces.

The results of the survey will be launched at the Scottish Parliament tonight [Wednesday] at an event featuring Keith Brown MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work.

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One of the authors of the report, Francis Stuart, Oxfam Scotland’s Research and Policy Adviser, said policymakers worried too much about increasing employment rates and not enough about the quality of the jobs.

“Too often paid work fails to serve as a reliable route out of poverty – that should concern us all at a time when so many people are in work, but still struggling financially," he said.

“. This research shows the quality of employment is critically important to people’s lives and that a decent hourly rate is only one part of the story.

“This research makes clear there is a significant job to do to improve the quality of work available in Scotland. Scotland can make major progress towards the delivery of decent work for all but the voices of low-paid workers must drive this effort.”

Researchers spoke to 1500 people and asked them to prioritise 26 different factors. The report says the top five factors are fairly basic conditions which workers should be able to expect – but in reality cannot always do.

They are a decent houly rate - 1 in 5 employees are paid less than the voluntary living wage, job security, paid leave, safe workplaces and a supportive manager.

Oxfam said 138,000 employees are on temporary contracts, 118,000 employees do not receive the statutory minimum paid holidays and 324,000 adults in work feel their line manager does not support them

Dr Hartwig Pautz, Lecturer in Social Sciences at the University of the West of Scotland, said: “Our research shows that a large number of workers lack what should be basic features of a decent job such as a permanent, secure contract, paid holidays, and a supportive line manager. Significant numbers also feel they are not being paid fairly compared to other jobs and do not have opportunities to progress in their current workplace. Too many of Scotland’s workers find themselves in paid employment lacking even these basic features of work.

“We know, from research on health inequalities and social determinants of health, that poor quality work can affect people’s health and general wellbeing quite adversely when it does not satisfy at least the basic characteristics of 'decent work'. For Scotland to have so many in this situation is very problematic, given that there is already immense health inequality in Scotland.”