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Employee Assistance Programme (2017)

Request

Please disclose the number of calls to the free confidential helpline provided by the House which is available for all members’ staff in the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017;

Please disclose the number of allegations of sexual misconduct received in the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017.

 

 

Response

This information is held by the House of Commons.
 
The House of Commons provides access for Members’ staff to an Employee Assistance Programme currently run by Health Assured.
The service allows staff to discuss and seek advice on personal and professional issues, including:
·         Health and well-being information
·         Financial issues
·         General advice on employment law
·         Stress at home or work and relationship matters

The number of calls received by the confidential helpline were as follows:
2014 (from contract inception in May):        87
2015:                                                          108
2016:                                                          240
2017 (January – October):                          238
 
You also asked for the number of allegations of sexual misconduct received in the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017.  In the first instance, it may help you to know that there are three main routes to complain about sexually misconduct in the House of Commons.  These routes are:
·         The Respect Policy – This is for staff of the House of Commons complaining about the behaviour of Members or their staff
·         The Valuing Others Policy – For staff to complain about the inappropriate behaviour of other House staff
·         The police – for any individual to make a complaint about criminal behaviour by another person
 
It is also worth noting that the Members’ HR provides confidential advice to Members of Parliament in their role as employers.  MPs are not required to consult the service.
 
Under the Respect Policy:
This information is not held by the House of Commons. 
We hold records of the total number of formal complaints made under this policy, but we do not hold this data broken down into categories based on the nature of the complaint.  To separate “sexual misconduct” cases, a sophisticated judgement would have to be made about the information held, and we are not obliged to carry out this breakdown or create this information as a result of a FOI request.
 
Under the Valuing Others Policy:
This information is not held by the House of Commons.
We hold records of the total number of formal complaints made under this policy, but we do not hold this data broken down into categories based on the nature of the complaint.  To separate “sexual misconduct” cases, a sophisticated judgement would have to be made about the information held, and we are not obliged to carry out this breakdown or create this information as a result of a FOI request.
 
Complaints made to the Police:
Some information is held by the House of Commons. On behalf of the House, the Metropolitan Police Service publish quarterly details of notifiable offences such as sexual assault on their website.
No other information is held by the House of Commons.
 
Complaints made to Members’ HR:
The House holds records of some grievances about which MPs have sought advice from Members’ HR. 
However, the number of cases relating to sexual misconduct by MPs or their staff in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and any disciplinary action recorded is very small (fewer than 5 cases) and so the disclosure of this separate information would allow individual cases and the personal data of staff and/or Members concerned to be revealed. 
All this information is therefore exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).  This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply. 
 
Any allegations of sexual misconduct made to Health Assured are not held by the House of Commons.