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Westminster sexual harassment to be tackled by new rules

Westminster sexual harassment to be tackled by new rules
From BBC - February 8, 2018

Complaints of sexual harassment at Westminster will be handled by a trained sexual violence adviser, as part of proposed changes to deal with the issue at Parliament.

A cross-party committee said such behaviour had been "a feature in the lives" of many who work at Parliament.

It carried out a survey and heard from more than 250 people who experienced sexual harassment in the past year.

MPs found to have harassed staff will face suspension or deselection.

And mandatory training is recommended for all MPs, peers and their staff.

The proposed new grievance procedure will provide "practical and emotional" support to complainants, whether or not they decide to take the matter to the police or pursue their claim.

The new sexual violence adviser will be able to lead an "informal" resolution process, which could result in a written apology for the complainant or workplace training for the perpetrator.

Alternatively, workplace disciplinary procedures could be instigated, led by a trained investigator - and if they find fault on the "balance of probabilities", action will be taken against the guilty party.

In the case of MPs, this will be done by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

'Unacceptable'

The cross-party working group, chaired by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom and including trade union representatives, was set up in November in response to allegations of inappropriate behaviour at Westminster.

There was widespread criticism at the time of the existing procedures for reporting bullying and harassment.

The working group said that "a change in workplace culture is both urgent and essential".

'Constant spotlight'

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