Westminster adopts ‘zero-tolerance approach to bullying’
MPs have approved a new complaints procedure which aims to ensure a ‘zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct’.
Speaking today in Parliament, the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom said the Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy (ICGP) “puts the complainant at the very heart of the process”, while at the same time “taking care to ensure that the principles of innocent until proven guilty are upheld”.
Ms Leadsom added the new policy will be “fair, transparent and I believe will win the confidence of everyone”.
“This is the first step, not the final step towards the culture change we all want to see,” she told MPs.
The new policy was drawn up after a report was published in February, which showed more than a third of staff in Westminster have experienced harassment or bullying in the last year.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Leadsom said it includes a new behaviour code, which will apply to everyone on the parliamentary estate.
And in order to “eliminate the threat of exposure which prevents many coming forward by ensuring”, Ms Leadsom said all investigations carried out under the new policy will be managed confidentially.
The code also includes a raft of new sanctions for MPs and Lords, including suspension from either the House of Commons or Lords.
Ms Leadsom added there will also be an independent inquiry to hear historic allegations about members, peers and staff, and a full review of the new policy after six and 18 months.
In addition, she told MPs two independent helplines have also been established – one to deal with bullying and one for sexual misconduct.
“Westminster has been rocked by allegations of bullying and harassment since last November, but today we can demonstrate our determination to put our house in order and to ensure in the future, everyone will be treated with dignity and respect,” said Ms Leadsom.
“It seeks to ensure that everyone in parliament is respected and valued and that we take a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.”
Speaking during the debate on the policy, Labour’s MP for Rother Valley, Sir Kevin Barron, commented: “This is not about complicated rules, or codes, or standing orders, it’s about ordinary human decency. People should not bully or harass other people. They should not sexually harass them or abuse their power. That is obvious and yet not everyone in this institution has behaved in a morally decent way.”
To read the full ICGP Delivery Report, click here.
Download a free ‘Bullying and harassment in the workplace’ employee factsheet, which discusses: What is bullying and harassment?, the impact of workplace bullying, the role of an employer, advice for combatting bullying, actions to take and provides some sources of help and information.
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