FDA calls on Senedd to implement “fully independent process for dealing with complaints of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment”
FDA Cymru|Wales has called on the Senedd to “implement a fully independent process for dealing with complaints of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment” made against MSs.
This call was included in FDA Cymru|Wales’s written evidence for the Standards of Conduct Committee’s ‘Inquiry into dignity and respect’, in which the union set out how the Senedd can better ensure unacceptable behaviour by elected officials does not go unpunished.
Explaining why independence is so vital for an effective process, the evidence argued that “members of staff should feel confident to put in their complaint and that it will be investigated… fairly, and a sanction determined free from political interference”.
“The public also expects fair and equal treatment for all elected officials and complainants regardless of political party, status or seniority,” it continued.
The evidence also points to Westminster and the establishment of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) to make decisions on sanctions on upheld complaints of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment against MPs. The FDA’s House of Commons branch helped design this process and FDA Cymru|Wales has made it clear it will “offer any and all support… in the implementation of an independent process for the Senedd”.
The evidence also noted the House of Commons Commission’s proposals for a risk based exclusion policy for MPs who are subject to serious allegations relating to a violent or sexual offence – which was a significant victory for the FDA and fellow trade unions. The evidence calls on the Senedd to follow this example.
FDA National Officer for Cymru|Wales Gareth Hills accused the Senedd’s current process for dealing with complaints made against MSs of “failing to compare to an employer’s disciplinary policy and falling behind the progress made in other UK administrations”.
“Evidence from across the UK demonstrates that only independent processes promote staff safety over political expediency,” Hills added. “Politicians should not mark their own homework.”
Hills also discussed this in a live appearance on BBC Radio Wales, where he argued that “there's a blueprint there in the House of Commons that the Senedd could easily adapt because, at the moment, the Senedd, I'm afraid, is falling behind the progress made in other UK administrations”.
“People need to have confidence in the system,” he explained. “They need to have confidence that their complaint will be fairly investigated and that any outcome will be fairly considered, free from political interference. Without that confidence, people won't be making complaints… we've seen that it can be done in the House of Commons.”
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