As a Member of the Speaker’s Conference which has looked into the employment of MPs staff, Mary Robinson MP welcomes the publication of the conference’s final report and recommendations.
The Conference is just the 8th to be convened in history and was tasked with reviewing the employment arrangements for Members’ staff in light of serious allegations of misconduct and concerns that Parliament is failing to be a safe and inclusive workplace for MPs staff.
Mary Robinson MP was one of 15 members invited to serve on the committee which included MPs from the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and SNP. The committee held numerous evidence sessions and interviewed employment experts, examined other Parliaments around the world in developing its recommendations, and listened to Members’ staff who submitted evidence of their own experiences.
Currently, Members’ staff are directly employed by MPs and paid by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) from their staffing budget. However, MPs staff are not afforded the same benefits, including HR services, as staff employed by Parliament. In addition, any continuity of service benefits is lost if a staff member moves to another MPs office as they are deemed as separate employers.
Commenting Mary Robinson MP said:
“It was a privilege to be asked to serve on the Speaker’s Conference on the employment of Members’ staff, which has today published its final report and recommendations.
The Conference has recommended that Members’ staff remain employed directly by Members, and not Parliament, IPSA, or another body. However, we have recommended that House Services work to make Parliament more inclusive for Members’ staff and ensure their contributions are recognised and valued.
In addition, it has been recommended that key support services be extended to Member’s staff, including the Parliamentary Health and Wellbeing Service, and that the Members Services Team add a number of HR staff to enable the extension of services to their staff. The report also recommends that IPSA amends its scheme to recognise previous service with another Member when determining leave or redundancy entitlements.
As the Chair of the APPG for Whistleblowing, I feel strongly that all workplaces must do their utmost to ensure they are not only safe and inclusive but have working reporting systems and that staff feel able to speak up about wrongdoing and misconduct that they witness or experience.
As well as drawing a robust grievance procedure, Parliament must also demonstrate that it listens to and values all members of staff. I believe that the recommendations made by the Conference, if implemented, will go a long way to improving how Members’ staff are valued, respected, and treated by Parliament.”
The report will now go on to be debated in the House of Commons, most likely when it returns from Summer recess in September. It is expected that the recommendations from the report will be implemented as soon as possible and before the next General Election.