The Working Group on an Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy (ICGP) was established in November 2017 in response to allegations about inappropriate behaviour and a culture of bullying and sexual harassment in Westminster.The ICGP Working Group was cross-party and bicameral and included representatives of unions and employees’ organisations active in Parliament.
Working Group Report
The ICGP Working Group’s report was published in February 2018 and recommended that new policies and independent advice and investigation services should be developed. The report also recommended further work be undertaken on training and cultural change, and the development of a new Behaviour Code. (Parliament's Library produced a very helpful briefing on the report.)
The House of Commons endorsed the Working Group’s recommendations for these proposed workstreams on 28 February. To deliver this work, an ICGP Steering Group was established to monitor implementation by Parliamentary officials.
The ICGP Steering Group membership reflects a broad range of parliamentary stakeholders and includes representation from both the Lords and the Commons.
Outline of workstreams
In March 2018, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy (ICGP) Programme Board was also established. Reporting into the ICGP Steering Group, the Programme Board oversees a number of workstreams focused on improving both prevention and resolution processes for dealing with serious allegations/evidence of sexual harassment and bullying.
- A Behaviour Code for Parliament that covers bullying and harassment, and sexual harassment, and applies to all persons working for or with Parliament, or who are lawfully on the parliamentary estate.
- An independent complaints and grievance scheme to underpin the Code, together with associated policies, appropriate sanctions and the contractual arrangements necessary for delivering the scheme.
- Particular procedures to deal with reports of sexual harassment, including the provision of a specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advocate.
- A system of training to support the Code.
- A human resources support service for staff employed by Members of Parliament or jointly by political parties, delivered by a third-party provider, and a handbook for these staff; and to identify any amendments that may be necessary to Standing Orders and the Code of Conduct, for the approval of the House.
Behaviour Code Consultation
Role of the Code
The Working Group identified that “a new binding Behaviour Code is needed to encompass a shared set of explicit behavioural expectations of all those working for and within Parliament”. These standards would underpin the whole independent complaints and grievance policy and be a statement of how people are expected to behave whether they work for Parliament or are visiting.
Development of the draft
In conjunction with the House’s Evaluation and Insight Team and Ipsos MORI, deliberative workshops on the principles to underpin the Behaviour Code have been held over the past few weeks. Attendees at these workshops have included MPs, Peers, Members’ staff and staff of both Houses. Discussions have also taken place with trade union representatives, the Press Gallery and the Committee on Standards on the development of the Behaviour Code. The Steering Group reviewed the findings on Monday 30 April and have agreed a draft Behaviour Code for consultation.
The ICGP Steering Group is keen to hear views about this draft Code, as follows:
- Give us your thoughts on the behaviours included in the Code. Is anything missing?
- To help explain the Code to a wide variety of people, how would you describe what these behaviours should look or feel like?
- Is there anything else you would like to raise with the Steering Group about bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment?
How to get in touch
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By post: ICGP Programme Team, 6th Floor, Norman Shaw North, House of Commons, London SW1A 2TT
Testimony on sexual harassment and bullying
UK Parliament is also urging MPs and Peers, their staff, and staff of the House of Commons and Lords, to share experiences of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.
The survey is intended to help inform plans to improve internal processes for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and bullying of those that work on the Parliamentary Estate.
The work is being undertaken following recommendations made by the Cross-Party Working Group on an Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy. The Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, is currently chairing the Steering group of staff and union representatives to implement its recommendations.
Submissions to the survey will be handled by an external specialist only and in the strictest confidence. All information will be strictly confidential and no personal data will be received by the UK Parliament.