Reports find harassment and bullying in Parliament

July 11, 2019
Chris Bushnell

Legal Counsel

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Two reports out this week have found repeated instances of bullying and harassment in Parliament and amongst staff working for some MPs or political parties.

The news that bullying and harassment are rife within and around Parliament comes as no surprise given previous reports and the small world of politics, where fear for career prospects put staff off making complaints so issues are less likely to be addressed and prevented from recurring. This issue is not limited to Parliament, and legislation may be on the cards to address the way that bullying and harassment complaints are dealt with more generally and the effect of settlement agreements. Employment law expert, Chris Bushnell from law firm gunnercooke, commented:

“According to the reports, there is a significant problem with bullying and harassment of both staff working for some MPs or political parties and those working within Parliament itself. This is by no means unique to those working in or around Parliament, but the nature of work in politics can make it harder to complain because of concern about future career prospects in such a niche area.

“This report comes amidst growing public, media and Parliamentary concern about how a variety of employers deal with allegations of bullying and harassment, and the use of settlement agreements (recently referred to as “NDAs” or “non-disclosure agreements”) to settle potential claims where this results in the underlying complaints not being dealt with.

“There is growing pressure on employers to ensure that allegations of bullying and harassment are dealt with properly, appropriate action taken and any trends identified and dealt with. It seems increasingly likely that there will be legislative change in this area, although it is not yet clear what this will entail. However many employers will want to proactively take steps to review their processes and culture, rather than wait for legislation to force action.”

Chris and our employment team have substantial experience in dealing with issues of bullying, discrimination and harassment – both from the perspective of employers trying to address allegations and improve their policies, processes and culture and from the perspective of employees who are facing bullying, harassment and discrimination. If you would like to discuss these issues, please email Chris, call him on 03330 143 401 or contact your normal gunnercooke contact.