FM pledges to ‘learn from mistakes’ over staff complaints

Nicola Sturgeon said the aim was to 'embed a culture where bullying and harassment is not tolerated'.

FM pledges to ‘learn from mistakes’ over staff complaints Getty Images
Complaints: Scottish Government to 'learn from mistakes'.

The First Minister has pledged that the Scottish Government will learn from its mistakes in the handling of complaints by staff.

On Monday, the First Minister said the Scottish Government’s aim was to “embed a culture where bullying and harassment is not tolerated and where there is trust in how matters will be handled if things go wrong”.

The pledge comes as reports by Laura Dunlop QC, James Hamilton and the Scottish Parliament’s Committee on harassment complaints, which covered various aspects of the Scottish Government’s complaints procedure and associated issues, have been published. 

In response, an external, independent procedure to oversee formal complaints about former and current ministers’ behaviour will be introduced, alongside a propriety and ethics team to ensure the highest standards of propriety and integrity across the civil service in Scotland.

Action will also be taken to improve how the Scottish Government use, store and retrieve information and records, following an internal review of information governance.

The response confirms the Scottish Government will report progress to parliament by the end of 2021.  

Work will continue to be informed by engagement with trade unions and staff, including those with lived experiences of bullying and harassment.

The First Minister said: “At the heart of the three reports are the complaints from two women who spoke of unacceptable behaviour in the course of performing their duties as civil servants. 

“These complaints could not be ignored. Everyone should be able to expect a respectful and safe working environment. This is both a legal right and core to the values of the organisation.

“Our goal is to embed a culture where bullying and harassment is not tolerated and where there is trust in how matters will be handled if things go wrong. This work is informed by engagement with our recognised trade unions and by staff, including those with lived experiences of bullying and harassment.”

“We are determined to learn from and apply the insights from these reports to build a culture in Government where concerns are addressed early, and where all those involved with a complaint have confidence and can engage constructively and fairly in the process.”