The ministerial code has been amended to say that harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place “is not consistent with the ministerial code and will not be tolerated”.
Prospect and others had been pressing for changes to the code after a number of high-profile cases and broader public concern about unacceptable behaviour at work.
The code has been amended to say that ministers are expected to:
- maintain high standards of behaviour
- be professional in all their dealings and
- treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect.
It also says that: “Working relationships, including with civil servants, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and parliamentary staff should be proper and appropriate.”
Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said existing procedures covered interaction between civil servants, but that there was nothing covering ministers’ interactions with their staff.
“To some extent it beggars belief that the standards of behaviour expected of ministers need to set out in the Code, but this is symptomatic of recent events.
“Prospect welcomes the changes but wants to discuss the procedures which need to be put in place to underpin the changes to the wording.”
The union is encouraging branches to engage with employers to review existing procedures to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
You can view the ministerial code at www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministerial-code