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UK Parliament staff face ‘damaging’ stress levels and abuse at work – POLITICO

LONDON — British parliamentary staff and MPs face a ‘damaging’ atmosphere of confrontation and abuse in the course of their work, according to a new report on working life at Westminster.

Staff said they faced persistent conflict and an unmanageable workload, with more than a third of parliamentary workers saying working at Westminster had a negative impact on their mental health – above the national benchmark.

It comes amid scrutiny of working culture and practices at the heart of Britain’s political establishment following a series of misconduct allegations against MPs.

Seventy-two percent of parliamentarians surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said they felt undue pressure at work, while 33 percent had experienced workplace conflict in the past 12 months.

Of these, 22% said they had been undermined or humiliated, 10% said they had been verbally abused or insulted, while others reported instances of sexual harassment and one instance of sexual assault.

The CIPD survey was commissioned by the All-Party Group for Compassionate Politics with support from House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, and reached a total of 315 people by the end of 2021, including 297 staff members and 18 deputies.

Half of those surveyed said the independent complaints process was not helpful and 65% of incidents at work were not resolved, according to the research.

Staff were less likely to feel safe in the parliamentary realm than MPs, with women feeling less safe than men.

Compassion in Politics, a cross-party think tank that supports the work of the APPG for Compassionate Politics, called for a significant overhaul of working practices in light of the findings.

MPs should stop employing staff directly and set up an independent HR function, introduce mandatory on-the-job training and remove the time limit for staff to report allegations of bullying, the think tank argued. .

Jennifer Nadel, co-director of Compassion in Politics, said, “We have a political system that is high on conflict and low on compassion. As this report shows, this is detrimental to the people who work there and destructive to those it is meant to serve.

Speaker Hoyle stressed: “I want Parliament to be a good place to work – where we feel respected, supported, where we have a good work-life balance and the right training, and where we are free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

He underscored his commitment to convening a speakers’ conference — a special cross-party committee — to discuss these issues “as soon as possible.”

The conference is expected to consider calls for an independent HR department and proposals to ban parliamentarians accused of serious misconduct from the parliamentary domain.

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