The national minimum wage will do little to alleviate the problems of the low paid unless it is backed by reforms of the tax and benefits systems along with improved workers' rights, claims Citizens Advice Scotland, which represents Scotland's 56 citizens advice bureaux.
Small Change, its new report on low pay, identifies restaurants and catering as one of the five worst-paid sectors. It claims low-paid workers - especially young people and women - are disproportionately affected by bad employment practices and the denial of basic rights.
A spokesman said the complexity of the tax and benefits system needs to be tackled, as it currently traps people either on the dole or in exploitative jobs. Affordable child care for low-paid women would help, along with the extension of basic employment protection (such as the right to sue for unfair dismissal) to workers with one, rather than two, years' continuous service.
While some employers deliberately flout workers' rights to such basics as written terms and conditions and itemised pay slips, many slip up through ignorance, said the spokesman, and were among the bureaux' clients. He felt Government should also provide more help and advice to help small employers meet their obligations.