It’s the historic seat of British democracy, where laws are made, issues debated and taxes spent. But for many of those who work there, the Houses of Parliament can also be an unwelcoming environment where bullying is rife and intimidation commonplace.
According to a new survey carried out by BBC 5 Live, a number of those working for MPs in Westminster say they have been subjected to threatening behaviour and harassment.
Around 1,500 questionnaires were sent to MPs’ staff in November, with respondents guaranteed anonymity. In all, 166 people responded, with nearly one in four claiming to have experienced bullying of some kind.
Among those who replied was a woman in her 20s, who said friends had told her she looked like a “battered wife” after working for an MP. She said she had been shouted at, threatened with the sack and subjected to persistent comments about her love life.
Another member of staff, also in his 20s, said he was shouted and sworn at. As a result, he sought therapy. However, he opted against reporting the abuse because he was afraid he would lose his job.
Concerns over the implications of whistle-blowing were commonplace, with only a third of the respondants who said they had been bullied reporting the behaviour, usually due to a lack of confidence that doing so would make any difference.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said MPs could be sacked if they are found guilty of bullying their staff, under new grievance procedures.
Clerk of the House of Commons, David Ntazler said he wanted to ensure staff knew where to go for help and advice, whether through the helpline, the face-to-face health and wellbeing service or via HR support, with a guide with contact details provided online.
How can Gotelee help?
As an employer, you have a duty to protect your staff from the harmful effects of belligerent behaviour. Fail to do so and you may find yourself defending an action filed by an aggrieved worker.
If you think there is bullying in your organisation, it’s essential you take action to change the workplace culture by creating and enforcing a code of conduct that protects staff and makes clear to perpetrators that such behaviour will not be tolderated.
Gotelee’s employment law solicitors can help you identify risk areas in your policies and procedures with a free audit. We regularly train managers on how to tackle difficult employment issues, and taking these steps will minimise your exposure to claims – and benefit your managers, too.
Our specialist solicitors in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Melton act for businesses large and small in Suffolk, Essex and further afield and can guide you with a minimum of fuss and expense.
To find out how Gotelee can help you, call Andrew West on 01473 298126 or email [email protected]