Ronnie Fox comments. Published by The Huffington Post UK.
The House of Commons has spent over £100,000 fighting staff employment tribunals, the Huffington Post UK can reveal.
Following a Freedom of Information request, the House of Commons revealed that it had faced 16 employment tribunal claims since May 2010, spending £91,310.93 on legal costs. Five of the cases were settled at a total additional cost of £14,218.96.
The revelation comes after a Channel 4 investigation found a third of young aides working for MPs claim to have been victim to their drunken sexual advances. Some of the 16 claims went to employment tribunal on numerous grounds, with those cited including: seven cases of victimisation, seven cases of unfair dismissal, six cases of disability discrimination and six other cases like breach of contract and sexual and racial discrimination.
The figures refer to staff working for the administration of the House of Commons such as clerks, librarians and caterers, not staff who are directly employed by MPs.
The House of Commons authorities said: “None of the cases is still ongoing. The other eleven cases have been concluded in other ways.”
On Friday, it was announced that Conservative MPs are to be given a new code of conduct setting out guidelines on how they should treat staff working in their offices.
The release of the code was held back until after the end of the trial of former deputy speaker Nigel Evans – who was cleared of all charges in a sexual assault and rape trial – to ensure there was no risk of prejudice.
The Conservatives said the code, which is being issued on a voluntary basis, was “a basic statement of what should be best practice in the workplace” for Tory MPs and their staff.
It is being circulated alongside a grievance procedure, which is available for staff to use if a grievance arises with an MP as their employer.
However, experts are doubtful as to whether the code of conduct will make any difference.
Ronnie Fox, employment law specialist at the City firm Fox, told HuffPostUK that “while people work together, this sort of thing will happen.”
“You can tell people it’s wrong to take advantage of your position and they’ve got to respect the rights of others and that harassing those working for you is wrong, but sadly it will go on whilst human beings are working with each other.”