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18 September 2019updated 23 Jul 2021 9:04am

Staffer “shocked’ by Labour Party’s reaction to complaints of bullying and unequal pay

In an email seen by the New Statesman, a complainant was told that their problem merited a workplace tribunal - but wasn't the business of the Labour party. 

By Ailbhe Rea

A former employee of a Labour MP has been told that her allegations of bullying and pay discrimination against her former employer will not be taken any further by the Labour Party, although they are “cause for concern” and a possible matter for employment law.

In an email seen by the New Statesman, the Labour Party complaints team told the ex-employee that her allegations of unequal pay and workplace bullying by the MP did “not breach Labour Party rules”, accompanied by a list of support helplines including the Samaritans, Mind and 999.

“The panel concluded that while much of the information you provided was cause for concern, this would be better pursued through more relevant channels, such as employment law,” it continued. No further details were provided about possible routes available to the complainant, nor how to make a claim through employment law.

The former employee submitted the complaint to the Labour party about her boss’s conduct in May, after being informed by the House of Commons Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme that the behaviour she described constituted bullying and harassment. The complainant was also advised by her trade union that she had a credible bullying and equal pay complaint.

A Labour Party source said: “This complaint was investigated in line with Party’s rules and procedures. A panel, advised by an independent barrister, determined that there was insufficient evidence of a potential breach of the Party’s rule book.

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“MPs’ staff are employed by Ipsa, not the Party, so we cannot investigate HR and employment matters where these aren’t relevant to Party rules.”

The complainant told the New Statesman: “I am shocked that the Labour party feels that this is a matter for employment law but not a party issue, and are simply happy to pass on suicide helplines. I’m very disappointed by how a party founded on the basis of worker’s rights views its duty of care for parliamentary assistants of Labour MPs.”

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