WORKERS want decent pay, job security, paid leave, a safe environment and a supportive manager – but there are “clear gaps” between their priorities and reality, a new report claims.

Work by Oxfam and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) found quality of employment is “critically important to people’s lives” and that policy is too focused on pay.

The report was launched at the Scottish Parliament last night at an event featuring Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Secretary Keith Brown.

Francis Stuart of Oxfam Scotland said: “This research makes clear there is a significant job to do to improve the quality of work available in Scotland.”

Researchers questioned more than 1,500 people across the country and identified 26 key factors determining what makes for “decent work”.

Hourly pay came out on top, with one in five people paid less than the voluntary Living Wage of £8.25. Job security was second, with 138,000 workers on temporary contracts, and paid leave was third, with 118,000 not in receipt of the statutory minimum paid holidays.

Researchers also said 88,000 workers reported illness caused or exacerbated by their job in the previous year.

The top five was completed by the need for a supportive manager, as 324,000 adult employees said their line worker did not provide the necessary back-up.

Other elements identified include freedom from discrimination, work that provides a “sense of purpose” and opportunities for career progression.

Dr Hartwig Pautz of UWS said: “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.

“We know 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.”