Our commitment to the UK Parliament Behaviour Code
We work closely alongside MPs, their staff and colleagues at the Houses of Parliament, and we are proud to be part of the wider parliamentary community. Our employees regularly visit Parliament and work with MPs and their teams to deliver our corporate objectives, including making sure MPs are resourced and supported so they can carry out their parliamentary functions.
Our goal is for MPs to have high-quality, responsive support, within a strong and user-friendly regulatory framework, so that they can quickly access the funds they need for their parliamentary work and we can give assurance that public money is spent in line with the rules. We are developing service standards which set out our commitment to providing an excellent service to our users.
As part of the wider parliamentary community, we have adopted and are committed to the UK Parliament Behaviour Code.
The UK Parliament Behaviour Code and the MP Code of Conduct
The UK Parliament Behaviour Code expects those visiting or working in Parliament or Westminster or elsewhere, respect and value everyone – bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct are not tolerated. It also expects that people speak up about unacceptable behaviour.
The MP Code of Conduct says members must treat their staff and all those visiting or working for or with Parliament with dignity, courtesy and respect.
Our commitment to the UK Parliament Behaviour Code
As members of the parliamentary community, we commit to abiding by the UK Parliament Behaviour Code by:
respecting and valuing everyone
speaking up about unacceptable behaviour
We hold ourselves to the standards set out in the Code, and unacceptable behaviour by our staff may be addressed under our own complaints, grievance or disciplinary policy.
Our employees may also raise issues under these policies. If a complaint is raised via the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme and findings or recommendations are provided to us, they will be dealt with and decisions will be taken under IPSA’s existing policies and procedures.
The UK Parliament Behaviour Code in practice
We understand that sometimes people contacting us may be frustrated or working in a challenging environment. We provide training to our staff to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and support needed to handle difficult calls and circumstances, and we use feedback to improve our service.
Sometimes, but thankfully rarely, the behaviour of our users on the phone, in writing or in person, is unacceptable and may breach the UK Parliament Behaviour Code. Examples of unacceptable behaviour are provided in the Bullying and Harassment Policy and Sexual Misconduct Policy, which are part of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.
If our employees experience behaviour which they think is unacceptable and may breach the UK Parliament Behaviour Code:
They may politely, but firmly, tell the person that they will stop the call or contact if the behaviour continues. If necessary, they may offer to rearrange or terminate a call .
They will report the matter as soon as possible to a line manager who will review the contact, offer the employee advice and support as necessary, and ensure the matter is noted.
If the line manager agrees that the behaviour is unacceptable, it will be reported to a director or senior manager as soon as possible.
The director or senior manager will assess the information and involve the person affected to decide how to respond. The response will be proportionate to the seriousness of the behaviour and may include one or both of the following:
the director or senior manager contacting the person to explain that their behaviour was unacceptable, the effect on our employee and asking them to reflect and apologise
supporting our employee to report the matter or make a formal complaint through the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, under the Bullying and Harassment Policy or Sexual Misconduct Policy. Although complaints can only be made by the person affected, we will provide full support to employees who want to make a complaint, and a manager will support them throughout the process. Complaints can also be made through our own policies and procedures
If someone displays unacceptable or vexatious behaviour to our employees, persistent or otherwise, a director may decide to restrict contact between that person and our employees, while maintaining service delivery through another route. This could be by:
restricting contact to email only, or if necessary, stopping contact altogether
limiting contact to certain people in the MP’s team
limiting contact to a single point of contact
restricting the frequency of contact, if necessary, or
taking any other proportionate response
Before contact is restricted, we will inform the person that we are doing so and explain the reason why.
Publication and reporting
We will collect data about adherence to the UK Parliament Behaviour Code and any actions taken so we can monitor and respond to issues faced by our staff.
We will analyse the data to help us identify opportunities to improve the provision of services and, where appropriate, identify training and awareness opportunities. Information reported internally may include:
anonymised performance statistics, for example, the time taken and stage at which issues raised were resolved
the trends and outcomes of investigations, and the actions taken in response
using data to identify the root cause and actions which will reduce the chance of it happening again
Requests for information about compliance with the UK Parliament Behaviour Code will be decided on a case-by-case basis, considering our obligations under data protection and privacy law and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Information will be handled sensitively and with discretion. Access will be restricted to those involved in the process and those who may need to be consulted to reach an outcome and in accordance with data protection legislation and internal policies on confidentiality.
Details of investigations and actions taken under the Code may be shared with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in accordance with data sharing provisions set out in our Joint Statement.
We will keep detailed records of the report, investigation and outcome, as well as of any review, for a minimum of 12 months after a complaint is closed.
Where it is decided to restrict contact with a person, we will make a note of this on the relevant record on IPSA’s contact management database. The note will be deleted when the restriction is lifted or expires.
Equality and diversity
Every infringement of the UK Parliament Behaviour Code will be treated fairly regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation. We will provide reasonable adjustments to support a person to engage with the policy and process, where needed.
Any decisions taken will also reflect the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010.
UK Parliament Behaviour Code
Parliament is committed to ensuring everyone working at Parliament feels supported, safe and positive at work. Their Behaviour Code makes clear the standards of behaviour expected of everyone in the parliamentary community, past or present. There is zero tolerance for abuse or harassment. For more information, read the UK Parliament Behaviour Code.