Work and Pensions Committee Chair, Frank Field MP, has written to the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom MP, asking her to consider a new procedure “to enable Members in extreme cases of bullying and harassment” in the workplace “to bring concerns quickly to the attention of the House and the nation, under the protection of parliamentary privilege”.
The procedure would include safeguards to ensure that identifiable case details are not publicised without all victims’ consent, and to guard against abuse of procedure.
In the letter, the Chair describes a recent approach by “someone who has witnessed appalling bullying and harassment in the workplace…In many of these cases, there were multiple witnesses to this unacceptable conduct. But it seems as though these witnesses might themselves have been bullied into silence, and some of the targets of the bullying felt that they had no choice but to sign non-disclosure agreements. There is a clear imbalance of power between those who have vast resources to pay for legal advice, and those who do not.”
Commenting on the request, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, said,
"I have been approached, as Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, by someone who has seen appalling racial abuse and sexual harassment by the senior management at their workplace. They have shown immense bravery in coming forward, and in doing so are also standing up for colleagues who were scared into silence.
"It cannot be right that people like this end up standing alone against a well-padded employer, bullied and harassed all over again by their sharp lawyers. This parliamentary procedure would seek to give them, and others in the same unjust position, some opportunity to redress the balance."
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