Road to recovery: impact of the pandemic on the Scottish labour market

Closed 9 Sep 2022

Opened 30 Jun 2022

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


This inquiry will consider the impact of COVID-19 on labour market inactivity and the prospects for recovery in the short, medium and long-term. We are specifically focused on the long-term sick component of economically inactive people, as well as people who have chosen early retirement.

A key issue that has arisen as part of the economic and social recovery from COVID is the emergence of a persistently high number of economically inactive people. The Office for National Statistics defines economic inactivity as “people not in employment who have not been seeking work within the last 4 weeks and/or are unable to start work within the next 2 weeks.”

We would like to understand what accounts for the above average long-term sick component of economically inactive people? Is this due to pre-existing conditions, or new conditions, such as long COVID, or other factors, such as stress brought on by pandemic experiences?

We would also like to consider whether early retirement is one of the drivers behind the levels of economic inactivity and, if so, what factors have influenced people into early retirement?

The consideration of these issues will include a focus on whether the pandemic has impacted disproportionately on the labour market prospects of certain groups, for example, young people, older people, women and ethnic minorities; and certain parts of the country.

We will use the evidence from this inquiry to consider and make recommendations to the Scottish Government on any policies that might assist economically inactive people to return to the labour market.

Key questions

  • What are the key factors driving the increase in labour market inactivity?
  • Has long-COVID been a factor in current levels of labour market inactivity? If so, is this likely to be a permanent feature of the labour market?
  • What has been the labour market impact of the pandemic on people with pre-existing health conditions?
  • What factors have influenced some people to take early retirement?
  • Thinking about labour market participation, have certain groups of society and parts of the country been impacted more than others?
  • Have there been sectoral differences from economic inactivity – for example, have Health and Hospitality sectors been more exposed than, for example, Finance?
  • What policies might encourage people to re-enter the labour market?

Please answer any of the questions that are of interest to you. You don’t need to answer all the questions.

Please note that we can only accept submissions via the online platform. If you require assistance to share your views via the platform for accessibility reasons, please contact the clerks.

How to submit your views

Please submit your views using the online submission form, linked to below.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. 

The call for views closes on 9 September 2022.


  • CVDR